Lyndhurst girls’ volleyball enjoys best season ever

Photo courtesy Emily Ringen The Lyndhurst girls’ volleyball team won 21 matches this season, setting a new school record for wins in a season
Photo courtesy Emily Ringen
The Lyndhurst girls’ volleyball team won 21 matches this season, setting a new school record for wins in a season

The Lyndhurst High School girls’ volleyball team enjoyed the best season in school’s history, winning 21 matches and advancing to the NJSIAA Group I sectional quarterfinals for the first time.

“These girls work hard every single day,” said Lyndhurst first-year head coach Steve Valhalla. “We moved some players around and it seemed to work.”

One of the players that had a new position was senior Eva Pelidis, who had more than 400 assists on the season.

“She had a fantastic, awesome year,” Valhalla said of Pelidis.

Another key player was junior middle hitter Kira Adams, who didn’t play volleyball last year.

“She was a great addition to the team,” Valhalla said of Adams. “She loves the sport now.”

Valhalla had a simple approach with his team.

“I told them that as long as they could get a touch on the ball, then it would slow things down a little,” Valhalla said. “That seemed to help throughout the season.”

Senior Cameron Halpern and junior Katie McMaster were others who excelled playing middle hitter.

“They were able to get their hands on the ball and slowed things down,” Valhalla said. “We definitely had an advantage with our height at the net. I always tell them if we have a lead, we can’t let the other team crawl back in.”

The result was a 21-8 record.

“It was a great learning experience for all of us,” Valhalla said. “We’re all learning, little by little. Honestly, all the credit goes to the girls. They gave 100% every single game. They listen to everything we tell them.”

Valhalla gave credit to his senior captains Haley Duffy, Shayna Southard, Pelidis and Halpern for leading the team when he wasn’t able to do so himself.

“They took care of things and made sure we were all on the same page,” Valhalla said.

Valhalla said that he was proud of the fact that the Golden Bears improved from 13-17 last year to 21-8 this year.

“I looked at the schedule and thought it was going to be tough,” Valhalla said. “But early on, we took Secaucus (a perennial Group I state contender with 21 state championships) to three games. That opened some eyes.

When we took Secaucus to three and we hung with them the whole time, from that moment on, I knew we could have an awesome team.”

Valhalla said that he could sense the Golden Bears had a special hunger from that match on.

“We just kept building up,” Valhalla said. “We worked on our strengths and weaknesses. It really was exciting to watch.”

Valhalla knows that there is a challenge ahead.

“We were very senior heavy,” said Valhalla, with eight members of the roster being seniors. Other seniors included Nashalie Altiery, Noel Triguero, Rosemary Reyes and Lindsay Henning.

McMaster and Adams will return next season. Sophomore Melis Akman is a promising hitter. Lauren Willis, Colette Bouteloupt, Olivia McMullin and Tiffany Esteves are defensive specialists. Tyla D’Andrea is a hitter.

Emily Ringen, the head softball coach, and Sam Naszimento served as assistant coaches. It was a cohesive unit.

So there’s promise for the future.

“This was my first year as a head coach and I got to see this team work so hard,” Valhalla said. “It really was an awesome year.”

Breaking the school record for wins in a season is proof of that.

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”