There’s a new non-public titan sitting atop the Shore Conference girls volleyball ranks.
For the past three seasons the local girls volleyball conversation began and ended with Saint John Vianney, a program that captured three consecutive conference championships.
However, a new titan has emerged in Ocean County, as Donovan Catholic has rolled to 10 consecutive victories to start the new year, including a string of four straight that is rather impressive.
Since Sept. 18 the Griffins have topped public school powers like Pinelands, Toms River North, Jackson Liberty and Barnegat in succession, making this group a favorite to challenge for a conference tournament crown.
But coach Glenn Jansen isn’t looking that far ahead.
“We still have a long way to go before tournament time,” said Jansen. “We have a great group of girls here. Girls who have experience and skill and who understand how to win. They know they’re off to a great start, but they also understand that it is just a start. We still have half the regular season to play and a lot to work on before we can play for a title.”
Donovan Catholic has been led by a pair of talented outside hitters in senior Vanessa Copes and junior Marta Pawka, who have combined 138 kills and 120 digs. Alexis Tamburello fronts the team’s defense with 91 digs.
Melissa Buxton and Olivia Passalacqua have also been forces near the net for Donovan Catholic with 38 and 36 kills, respectively. The duo has also teamed up to register 29 blocks.
Jenessa Lombardi has been the facilitator of the Griffins offense, as she leads the team with 166 assists. Michele Carlson comes in second in the category with 43 helpers.
“We have talented girls all over the court,” Jansen said. “But it’s a group that’s focused on a bigger goal. And they know they’ll need to maintain that focus and that work ethic if they’re going to achieve what they believe they can.”