TASTY TIDBITS 10-23-2011 McNair Academic girls’ volleyball squad rolls along undefeatedCougars unblemished at 22-0; football power point update

It’s definitely shaping up as the best season in the history of the McNair Academic girls’ volleyball program.
The Cougars have won all 22 of their matches this season, but the idea that the Cougars are undefeated is not coming as a surprise at all.
“We were 17-3 last year and we had a lot of people coming back,” said senior setter Jenna Szymanski. “Plus, we have great chemistry together.”
“Everyone on the team is like family,” said senior middle hitter Natalia Estremera.
“We’re all best friends,” said fellow senior outside hitter Melissa Camacho. “We all hang out together and we all love each other. It really goes a long way.”
Veteran head coach Sharon Felton constructed the undefeated juggernaut, but she’s had to take care of some family business, so assistant coach Jose Avegno, a McNair Academic grad (Class of 1999) has inherited the leadership role until Felton can return.
“From the beginning, we knew that this team was special,” Avegno said. “Coach Felton brought them together for a luncheon before the season and the bond that was formed was incredible. It’s the key to the reason why they’re undefeated. The team has good leadership and the girls all respect each other. It’s gotten to the point where they don’t even think about losing. I don’t want to jinx it, but if we keep playing the way we have been, I don’t know if we can lose.”
The undefeated record is definitely a sense of pride throughout the whole team.
“The goal is to be the best team in school history,” Szymanski said. “There’s always that pressure in having an undefeated record, but we’re not thinking about that right now. We’re a really confident team.”
“The pressure builds with every win, but that just keeps us motivated to keep it going,” said Estremera, who is also one of the best softball players in Hudson County. “We know we have a great team. We’re not there yet with teams like Secaucus or Memorial, but we’re getting the name out there. We want to challenge them, play with them, to give us a better name.”
Camacho is just enjoying the season.
“It’s so awesome,” Camacho said. “We don’t get much credit for what we do, but we play with a passion. We’re proving that girls’ volleyball is a strong sport here and we’re finally getting the chance to prove we’re here. Every time we walk onto the court at a different school, we know that they all want to be the ones to finally beat us, knock off the undefeated team. We’re not going to let that happen.”
Senior outside hitter Akasha Maples agrees.
“It’s been an amazing run and I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to do,” Maples said. “It’s very important for us to remain unified as a team. It’s why we’re playing so well. We pull it together and have that mental strength.”
It should lead to some interesting moments during the upcoming Hudson County Tournament, with the upstart undefeated underdogs from downtown Jersey City poised and ready to take on all comers…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (4-2). 2. North Bergen (4-2). 3. Union City (5-1). 4. Hoboken (5-1). 5. Secaucus (5-1)…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Soccer Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (15-1). 2. North Bergen (9-6). 3. Bayonne (8-8). 4. Union City (6-7-1). 5. Ferris (5-8-1)…
The NJSIAA’s football power point standings feature three teams in the mix of the North 1, Group IV bracket. Union City is atop the standings with 90 points, followed by North Bergen in third with 73 points and surprising Memorial looking to make its first appearance in the state playoffs in over a decade, tied for fourth with 71 points.
Hoboken and Secaucus are tied for fourth in North 2, Group I with 69 points and appear headed to the post-season once again. Lincoln stands fourth in North 2, Group II, but will need two wins to clinch the program’s fourth straight trip to the states. Bayonne is fourth in North 2, Group IV, but will also need at least one win to sew up a berth.
St. Anthony is second in Non-Public Group 1 and Hudson Catholic is still alive in that bracket, but will need wins over Snyder and Marist in the next two weeks to get in. St. Peter’s Prep is third in the tough Non-Public Group 4 and will clinch a berth in the playoffs with a win this weekend over Memorial…–Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.

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