Last season, the St. Joseph High School boys volleyball team was among the state’s best for a good majority of the spring. The Falcons ran up a 32-6 record, were the top-seeded team in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament and secured the top seed in the NJSIAA Central sectionals.
But for all of the success they had in the regular season, St. Joseph ended its campaign without a title.
Old Bridge knocked the Falcons off in the GMCT final and eventual champion Cinnaminson disposed of the Falcons in the semifinals of the state tournament.
But, with the new season set to start next week, St. Joseph has its sights set on reclaiming the hardware.
“Last year was disappointing at the end,” head coach Miguel Cabrita said. “But the guys are ready to go this year and we’re looking to bring the GMC title back to Metuchen.”
The Falcons have been in the GMCT final every season since there has been a tournament, but Old Bridge has won two of the last three crowns.
St. Joseph is loaded for another deep run, led by senior Kurt MacDonald. MacDonald collected the seventh-most digs in the state last season with 367 but, according to Cabrita, he’s not the only player to pay attention to this year.
“Kurt is our lead defensive player and he set a school record for digs last year,” Cabrita said, “but Sean Dacey is our starting setter and he’s in mid-season form, along with Sean Finan, who is coming off basketball season. He hasn’t missed a step.”
Finan led the team with 257 kills last season and Dacey collected a team-best 150 assists.
The Falcons need to establish chemistry in order to be successful, at least in the eyes of Cabrita, who said last season the team’s chemistry went away at the wrong time.
“It fizzed for us late last year at all the wrong times,” Cabrita said. “A couple bad things would happen and we’d fall apart. But I think this season will be different for us. These guys compliment each other really well.”
Some of the depth players for St. Joseph should help the Falcons meet their goals this season, with Thomas Durrell, Greg Jajtay and Ray Kowalski all expected to play pivotal roles.
“(Thomas) Durrell is an offensive weapon for us,” Cabrita said. “(Ray) Kowalski is our other starter and he was a surprise last year. He’s been great this offseason building strength and polishing his game for us.”
St. Joseph will head to Rhode Island for the fourth straight season to compete in an out-of-state tournament that they’ve won every time. Once they return home and conference play starts, Cabrita knows GMC foes will be waiting for them.
“We haven’t seen Old Bridge since last year, but we want to get past them. They’re in our way and head-to-head we should do well,” Cabrita said. “East Brunswick is really good also and they’re a big rival of ours. It should be a great conference year.”
St. Joseph gets its season underway on April 2 when they host a quad-meet against Bergen Catholic, Bloomfield and Elizabeth. They’ll also battle West Windsor Plainsboro-South in the afternoon to cap a busy opening day.