Old Bridge claims first state boys’ volleyball championship


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Brett Carroll
Staff Writer

The plan was simple when the Old Bridge High School boys’ volleyball team prepared to win the program’s first state championship.

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Old Bridge coach Andrew Hopman explained the strategy when his team was about to stop Southern Regional High School from wining a third straight state championship.

“The easiest way to explain it is just Old Bridge volleyball,” Hopman said. “We usually have a plan to expose the other team’s weaknesses. That team didn’t have any weaknesses. We just had to go out and play Old Bridge volleyball. That means serve them tough, play scrappy defense, and when you get set, put the ball down.”

The plan was simple but the challenge was not easy.

Southern Regional entered the state championship match on June 7 not only bidding to win a third consecutive  state title but the school from Manahawkin was ranked No. 1 in New Jersey. Old Bridge came into the state final that with the No. 3 ranking in New Jersey.

But sticking to its simple game plan, Old Bridge pulled off the upset with a 2-1 victory to win the state championship in the match that was played at South Brunswick High School.

Old Bridge claimed the first set, 25-22, but Southern Regional tied the showdown with a 25-21 triumph in the second set.

In a thrilling final set, the score stood tied at 23-23 when Old Bridge pulled away with two points to seal the state title with a 25-23 victory.

The emotional Hopman praised his squad, which finished the spring with a 32-5 record.

“I can’t explain how proud I am of this team,” Hopman said. “It would put me in tears.”

The Knights will graduate some key players but Hopman is excited about the team that will bid to repeat as the state champion in 2019.

“We lose some incredible players,” Hopman said. “But, we also have some incredible players coming back. We’re going to find a way to be the best we can be.”

Elan Dorkman, the senior captain for Old Bridge, ended the game with 14 kills, two blocks, and nine digs.

Other Knights who contributed on this memorable day were Logan Albrecht, who recorded 10 kills, Andrew Zaleck, who collected nine kills, two blocks and four digs, and Josh DeWitt, who led the team with 19 digs. Also coming through for Old Bridge was Justin Tuohy, who finished with 41 assists.

“Game of a lifetime,” Dorkman said after the victory. “Honestly, throughout the match, I didn’t even know if we were going to pull this one out. It was just that you had to play this one point-by-point. That’s what we did and we were able to pull it out.”

Earlier in the season, Dorkman became the first Old Bridge player to reach 1,000 kills.  At the time, he wasn’t sure whether or not that would be the greatest achievement of his career.

That debate had been officially put to rest.

“It’s not even a question anymore,” Dorkman said. “This is definitely one of the best moment of my life. We had to give up a senior Disney trip. All the seniors are in Disney right now. I can’t even question that it was 100 percent worth it. I’m going to look at this year’s from now, and remember it all.”

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