Even though it came in a loss, Guilherme Queiroz showed in his final boys volleyball game at Harrison why he is not just one of the state’s top outside hitters in the state, but also one of the best big-game players to ever put on a Blue Tide uniform.
Queiroz set a career-high with 18 kills to go with 10 digs and two aces in Wednesday’s heart-breaking 25-17, 18-25, 22-25 defeat to Passaic Charter in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Group 1 final. For Queiroz, it capped off an incredible 10-match stretch which saw the senior outside hitter record 10 or more kills nine times.
Queiroz’s performance makes him the final Observer Athlete of the Week for the 2022-23 high school season.
“When it’s a tough challenge match, he always rises to the challenge,” head coach Nick Landy said. He just does things out of nowhere sometimes that you’re not expecting, but you’re pleased to see. He grew every week this year and he played so hard in the final.”
“Even though we lost, I couldn’t be more proud (of this team),” Queiroz said about his team, which finished 27-3. “I’m definitely a little bit shaken up by the loss. We were expecting a good team and a good battle from them, but the outcome wasn’t what we expected, especially with it being at home.”
Between the Hudson County and NJSIAA tournaments, Queiroz had 73 kills in six matches for a 12.2 average. Ten of those kills came in the Hudson County final when the Blue Tide defeated rival Kearny for its first county title since 2016.
“Winning the Hudson County Tournament was one of the biggest accomplishments because it’s been seven years since Harrison got its second title and to be that third team to bring the title home was something special,” said Queiroz. “It showed how we were able to play really well and demonstrate it with a good season.”
Queiroz saw his kills total jump from 198 as a junior to 253 this season. Both he and Landy credit that in large part to him vastly improved hitting ability from the backline, providing an added dimension to his game.
“That was one of my personal goals,” Queiroz said. “Last season, I honestly felt I could count how many times I actually attempted to hit back row and that cost me a lot. I wasn’t an available hitter so I made it a goal to get better at that. It helped a lot and it made me an available hitter and a better overall player.”
Landy was quick to praise volunteer assistant coach and Harrison volleyball legend Piotr Namiotko in helping Queiroz become a better hitter this season.
“I think the best thing that happened to him this year was having Piotr around and he really listened to Piotr,” said Landy about Namiotko, who had 1,092 career kills and led Harrison to the Tournament of Champions final in 2016. “Who’s better to tell you how to hit the ball than Piotr? I think he helped him a lot.”
Queiroz’s college plans for next year have yet to be determined, but his goal is to play volleyball in college and eventually professionally.
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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer
Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)