Two-sport star Danny Leung is expected to lead the East Brunswick High School volleyball team again this season with his well-rounded game.
In 2012, Leung led the team with 143 kills, 59 digs, 21 service points and 14 service aces and this winter he helped East Brunswick go deep into the state basketball tournament.
According to head coach Greg Rutz, Leung’s success on the basketball floor is only going to carry over into success on the volleyball court.
“Danny only knows one way to play and that’s at 100 percent,” Rutz said. “He has this gift of a huge vertical leap and it helps him be a star in volleyball. Danny is his hardest critic but he’s one of our captains and I think the basketball season was nothing but a jolt of pure confidence for him. He played so well and (basketball head coach) Bo Henning and I gave him a nickname of the Pitbull. I hope it will carry over to our season.”
Classmates Jack Fredicks (110 kills, 14 service points, 13 service aces) and Alec Weissman (276 assists) also return to bolster a deep and talented roster a year after they went 16-6 and reach the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Central sectional.
“We bring back five starters and I think we’re 40-50 percent better than we were last season,” Rutz said. “I took over in 2001 after East Brunswick had won state titles in 1999 and 2000. I was scared as a first-year coach and we won a state title anyway in 2001.
“Our goals for this season are that we want to win the GMC and we want to win states. Those have been the same goals that we’ve had since 2001. We show up every year believing that we’re the best but that’s how we start.”
Old Bridge optimistic
Home News Tribune Player of the Year Aiden Albrecht’s 46 service aces were the fifth most in the state and he teamed with Steven Bonilla and Junior Oboh to lead Old Bridge to the semifinals of the NJSIAA Central sectional a year ago.
The Knights beat St. Joseph in the GMCT final for their second conference tournament in the last three seasons. Bonilla collected 551 assists and Oboh led the team with 205 kills last season. Old Bridge went 20-8 in 2012 before losing to Christian Brothers Academy in the postseason.
Head coach Andrew Hopman said that a repeat of last season’s success is attainable and very much the goal for the Knights in 2013.
“Since we have most of the team back from last year, I expect to win the GMC and the (NJSIAA) Central sectional,” Hopman said. “The only thing that might hurt us are injuries.”
Albrecht is unquestionably the leader of Old Bridge’s attack and Hopman dished out high praise for the senior.
“Aiden is the best player I’ve seen in 12 years of coaching volleyball,” Hopman said. “He’s the best on our team in every area. There are just no weaknesses in his game. He’s excellent in all aspects and he hates to lose. Good is never good enough for Aiden.”
The Knights open their season April 2 against J.P. Stevens.
Barrons look to regroup
Bryan Kolpuc led Woodbridge to an 11-9 record in 2012 by ranking fourth in the state with 389 digs. Kolpuc also registered 37 service aces, which ranked 13th statewide.
But the Barrons have a lot to replace from last season’s squad.
Brandon Flores recorded a team-best 273 assists last season and Nick Stefanicha was one of Woodbridge’s best defensive players, registering 319 digs and 46 blocks. Craig Conklin and Bryan Cromwell, who combined for 527 digs in 2012. All four have graduated.
“We lost four of our six starters from last year and those guys had a huge impact on our program,’’ head coach Joseph Kirk said. “So we only have three kids with varsity experience. But we’re excited for this season. We’re working hard in practice. The GMC is going to be tough but if we get better every day, anything can happen.”
The Barrons get their season started April 1 against Essex County Vocational School.