Hillsborough still searching for respect

The Hillsborough boys volleyball team gathers during a recent scrimmage. Photo by: Kathy Johnson

The Hillsborough boys volleyball team gathers during a recent scrimmage. Photo by: Kathy Johnson

For the Hillsborough High School boys volleyball team, 2013 is all about maintaining the status quo.

The Raiders have won four of the last five Skyland Conference regular season titles and they’ve been among the best teams in the state over that period, but according to head coach Todd Sudol, Hillsborough isn’t getting the credit they deserve state-wide.

“We want to be taken seriously state-wide,” Sudol said. “We have eight seniors this year and we have a lot of kids that take this game seriously. I think this could be a big year for Hillsborough.”

One reason for optimism is the fact that Sudol has eight seniors on his roster, including setter Joey DeLuca, who was second in the state last season with 809 assists. Tim Erdman, one of the team’s outside hitters, had 356 digs last year and Alex Duncan leads a strong front line defense. Duncan registered a team-best 40 blocks in 2012.

“The talent of the guys we have is awesome,” Sudol said. “We’re known for our athleticism around here and the fact that most of these guys didn’t play volleyball before high school is pretty cool. I give them a lot of credit for putting the time in to get great and have these lofty goals.”

Some of those goals include staying at the top of the Skyland Conference, finishing in the top 10 in the state polls and maintaining status as an elite program.

“Hillsborough boys volleyball is a young program,” Sudol said. “This is only our ninth season of competition, but the kids have established themselves as one of the best in the state. We always want to equal or do better than we did last year.

“We’ve been able to establish some tradition in the short amount of time we’ve had a program,” Sudol said. “The guys who we have graduated come back and work with the current players and we just want to keep pushing the future of Hillsborough volleyball. We want to make sure that what they established stays here and continues to grow. I’m fortunate as a coach that the players have the drive to be great and it’s a nice atmosphere to coach in.”

The team-first attitude that Sudol praises will be put to the test in the season’s opening week. The Raiders will play on four of the first five days of the season, including the invitational they’re set to host on April 6. Their first three matches are against Watchung Hills, Cinnaminson and Ridge.

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