PRINCETON: Princeton captures volleyball title


Pictured are members of the Princeton High girls volleyball team that captured the championship of the WJIVL tournament. In the front row (left to right) are: Kim Cheng

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Once the season is over, the Princeton High girls volleyball team will have a chance to reflect on what an amazing four-year journey it has been.
Now in its fourth year as a program (third at the varsity level), the Little Tigers secured their first championship when they captured the West Jersey Interscholastic Volleyball League tournament title with a win over West Windsor-Plainsboro South.
“It’s definitely special,” Princeton coach Patty Manhart said. “We had our senior night (Monday) and several of the girls were reflecting on how they started in the program as freshmen and to see the development they’ve made and to win the league this year is pretty special. To do it this early in the program just shows how hard the girls have worked.”
Princeton, which won just four matches a year ago, improved to 16-4 this season with a win over Hopewell Valley on Wednesday. The Little Tigers are the 20th seed in the state Group IV tournament and will open against 13th-seeded Clifton on the road.
“I think coming into the preseason everyone realized we were stronger than the years prior,” Manhart said. “We took some time to build our confidence. We lost to South the first time we played them and we lost to Rancocas Valley the first. I think the girls built on their confidence over time. We beat South when we played them again and then the girls wanted to give Rancocas their first loss. They were 19-0 and they came to us and we knocked them off. That was very exciting.”
The Little Tigers went to the WJIVL tournament as the No. 4 seed and came away with a title after knocking the Pirates in the final. Along the way Princeton won close three-set matches against Cinnaminson, Rancocas Valley and WW-P South.
“I compare it to the Mercer County Tournament,” Manhart said. “There are not enough teams in Mercer so we don’t have a county tournament. But the schools in Mercer and Burlington play in the WJIVL and we have this tournament at the end of the season.”
For the seven seniors in the Princeton program – Noa Levy, Nicole Barrales, Alexandra Colon, Lucia Firbas, Nancy Gray, Siyang Liu and Annie Sullivan — Crowley — the championship puts a stamp on the incredible rise of the program.
“On our Senior Night I asked them to each write a message and asked them to create their own memory or reflection on the season,” Manhart said. “Almost every senior reflect on how amazing it is seeing the growth from when they first learned to put the ball over the net.”
Next up for Princeton is a trip to the state tournament, where the Little Tigers hope to continue their special season.
“This is the first time in the states for us and everyone is excited about that,” Manhart said.
Along with Princeton, Montgomery and WW-P South are also in the Group IV tournament. Montgomery is the No. 24 seed and will play at ninth-seeded Rancocas Valley. WW-P South is the 25th seed and will play at eighth-seeded East Brunswick. 