Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Golden Knights Share Spotlight

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Golden Knights Share Spotlight

Article excerpt

WAYNE - After Northern Valley/Old Tappan clinched the Group 3 volleyball state title, the Golden Knights took turns taking pictures with the trophy, passing phones back and forth so everyone could get the right shot with the right phone. Everyone got a turn.

On the court, everyone gets a turn, too.

Undefeated and uniquely equipped with weapons, NV/OT swept Paramus, 25-15, 25-19, at William Paterson to claim their second state title in three years.

What's most interesting is that the Golden Knights aren't following the usual script teams have used to dominate North Jersey nets (and if you dominate North Jersey, you dominate New Jersey). For years, volleyball champions have relied on a signature star, usually a big hitter, to feed. Immaculate Heart has had great teams that featured superstar hitters Nia Reed and Ariel Scott, who both went on to Penn State (Reed is now a sophomore). Bogota had Carly O'Sullivan who helped them win four Group 1 titles. Even NV/OT had All-American Aiyana Whitney when it won the Tournament of Champions title in 2010.

These Golden Knights don't have one star. Against Paramus, four different Golden Knights had three kills or more giving them versatility no one else in North Jersey can match.

"We have so many options," said NV/OT senior setter Kelly Brogan. "It definitely makes my job easier, knowing that I have so many options and that I can trust them."

"When everyone is hitting, it makes their defense have to work that much harder," agreed NV/OT senior hitter Natalie Alechko. "And that helps out, and I'm OK with that. I don't need to be set every time. I'm old now, so give it to the young ones. I think that's part of being a great team."

These Golden Knights are experienced, and tall. They all like to joke about just how many 6-footers they have on the roster. Coach Melissa Landeck has eight seniors, five were on varsity as freshmen. She said she noted their special unselfish attitude early this year when the team won the Northern Valley Tournament even though Alechko didn't play.

"I think that lit a spark in us that we had a lot of depth and we could win no matter who was out there on any given day," said Landeck. …

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