One of the top girls volleyball squads in the state will be looking to successfully defend its New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) sectional and overall group championships when Sparta High School begins its 2023 campaign on Thursday, Sept. 7.
The Spartans, who will host Mendham in the season-opener at 4 p.m., fashioned a 25-1 record last year, winning the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 2 title and their first overall Group 2 crown.
The team’s only loss of the season came in a 2-1 setback to North Hunterdon in the finals of the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament. For its efforts, Sparta finished the season ranked No. 9 in the state.
This year’s team, under head coach Caitlin Jozefczyk, will be led by seniors Haley Maher, Payton Simpson and Emily Smernoff and juniors Tara Keller, Sylvia Przydzial, Aralyn Saulys and Lea Tsamadias.
Sparta enters this season having won 87 of its past 100 matches during the previous four years.
Here is a look at the other opening-week schedules for Sparta teams:
A year ago, the Spartans bowed in the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex Tournament championship final to Hunterdon Central, 1-0, in their bid for their first tri-county title. They also suffered a 6-0 loss to Ramapo in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 1, Group 3 final.
Sparta won its first sectional title in 2021, when it captured the Section 1, Group 2 crown.
The Spartans will open this season at 4 p.m. Sept. 7 when they play host to Mount Olive. The team then travels to play at Montville at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9 before playing at Chatham at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11.
Seniors Juliana Dolinski (21 goals, 14 assists) and Abigail Pierson (seven goals, six assists); juniors Uma Kowalski (eight goals, six assists), Abigail Connors (four goals, five assists) and Gina Stankiewicz (one goal, six assists); and sophomore goalie Riley Molbury (114 saves) are the top returners.
Sparta, which finished 15-5 last season under head coach Daniel Trappe, won the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference American Division championship with a 7-3 mark.
Sparta, under the direction of head coach Tim Connors, will be looking to improve on last year’s finish.
The Spartans were scheduled to play at Mount Olive at 4 p.m. Sept. 7 before playing at Roxbury at 10 a.m. Sept. 9.
Juniors Patrick Connors (four goals, five assists) and Kyle Enderle (two goals, two assists) and seniors Quint Flannery (three goals, two assists) and goalie Chris Munoz return this season.
The Spartans begin the season with a home game against Pope John at 10 a.m. Sept. 9 before traveling to play at Morris Hills at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Last year’s team fashioned a 6-9-3 mark. Returning are top scorers junior Sophia Candeloro (11 goals, seven assists) and sophomore Emma Johnson (three goals, four assists) along with senior goalie Orianna Bennett (184 saves).
Sparta, which was 6-11 last fall, was scheduled to play at Chatham on Tuesday, Sept. 5 and at Mendham at 4 p.m. Sept. 7 before returning home to play host to Morris Hills at 4 p.m. Sept. 11.
Seniors Scarlet Matteson and McKaela Reekie, junior Julia Miller and sophomore Maureen Gaines are the top returners for head coach Andrew Lowery.