Three-Peat Dreams Fell Short, But Season Still Commendable
McCaddin leads Caldwell volleyball honors
For 99.9 percent of high school volleyball teams, winning a share of a league title as well as a county title would be considered a big year. But for the Caldwell volleyball program, those accolades do not measure up to what the team has done in the recent past.
The Chiefs finished with a 10-2 record in the top SEC division, the American, good for a three-way split for the title with Livingston and East Side. The 2010 season finished with a thud at home with a three-set loss to Pascack Hills in the Group 2 North 2 sectional semi-final (25-20, 25-27 and 20-25), ending a string of wins. The Chiefs had won back-to-back Group 1 state titles before moving up to Group 2 this season.
Despite not reaching the level of previous Caldwell squads, first year head coach Don Cooper said he could not have been happier with the effort that his team put out this season.
Cooper points to the 27-3 record along with the Essex County title victory over East Side, as well as a win over Union Catholic, the top program in Union County, in the Side Out Tournament in Hackettstown, as a couple of the best played victories along with victories over Livingston and Southern, a South Jersey powerhouse. "Generally we played real well except for a couple of games," Cooper said.
Cooper admitted that the battle with Pascack Hills was not one of his team's best. "We didn't have a great game against Pascack Hills," said Cooper. "We should have beaten them. We just had one of those days."
The loss to the Cowgirls also ended a big career from senior Kelly McCaddin, who was named to the All-State Group 2 team as well as the Essex County Player of the Year. The senior hitter collected 307 kills, 158 digs, 53 aces, 36 assists and 93 stuffed blocks. McCaddin will be playing at Temple University next fall.
"She was a better defensive player than I thought. She was a real good hitter, blocker and she had a very good serve. She was just a consistent all-around player."
Cooper said McCaddin also showed leadership and was like having "an assistant coach on the floor."
In addition to McCaddin, Cooper will lose the likes of Paige Johnson, Melis Taskoy and Lilly Thomann to graduation. Joining McCaddin on the first All SEC team were Johnson and Brittany Wolf. Wolf collected 183 kills while Johnson added 86 kills, 75 digs and 52 stuffed blocks.
On the second team All SEC is junior libero Alyson Papasidero, while junior setter Jesse Sengstacke was named to the honorable mention All SEC.
Wolf had one of the hardest hits in the league. For next season, Cooper will be looking for Wolf to play a bigger part that includes playing defense. "She was such a hard hitter and was an aggressive player," said Cooper. "She will be huge for us next season."
The loss of Johnson will be felt. "She was very athletic and could do everything pretty good," said Cooper. "She moved very well on the floor."
Cooper will have both setters back, Sengstacke and junior Laura Stiefbold, but he said they will need to be more multi-dimensional next season. Sengstacke collected 354 assists while Stiefbold added 208 assists. "(Next year), we will have experience at the setting which we didn't have this year," said Cooper.