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by Marc Narducci

Cherry Hill East Cougars

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Returning starters include senior setter/outside hitter Evan Smith, senior opposite hitter Andrew Qian, senior middle blockers David Shull and Josh Grinbergs, and junior outside hitter Nick DiVito. Others to watch include senior middle blocker Jake Maggioncalda, senior libero/defensive specialist Paul Dang, outside hitters Charis Oh and Austin Billig, and setter Liam McIntyre.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Eastern should be the Cougars’ top competitor in the Olympic Conference.

OUTLOOK: The Cougars are defending division champions and will again be a major force not only in the Olympic Conference, but South Jersey. Coach Karl Moehlmann (302-93) has long been among the state’s top coaches and he will have the Cougars at their usual high level.

Cherry Hill West Lions

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Two returning starters are senior libero Kevin Viola and senior outside hitter Justin Clark. Returning letter winners include setter Ray Horner, middle hitter Sean Bivins, outside hitter Ryan Lee and senior middle hitter Donnell Gee. Among the players from last year’s JV team who look to contribute are junior outside hitter Alex Nieves and senior outside hitter Kyle Edwards.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Watch for perennial division contender Kingsway, along with Clearview, which could be among the area’s top teams.

OUTLOOK: The Lions only return two starters from a 10-11 team that still finished second in the Patriot Division. This remains among the top programs in South Jersey, but West will be rebuilding this year. That doesn’t mean the Lions won’t challenge for a division title, it’s just that they won’t be the favorite.

Eastern Vikings

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Kevin Sullivan looks to be the Vikings leaders and one of the top players in South Jersey. Senior Cory Weinberg looks to take over at setter. Senior Jerry Rugletic is a returning letter winner who is expected to have a bigger role. Senior Justin Hohing is a major threat with a dangerous jump serve. Two key returning juniors are Narindra Peaks and Matt Wiese. Others expected to contribute include Evan Dannenbaum, Dom Van Blarcom, Kevin Heppe, David Krause and Tyler Finnegan.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Cherry Hill East and Eastern should wage an excellent battle in the Olympic American Division.

OUTLOOK: The Vikings were 21-7 last year. In addition the JV was 20-0 and freshmen were 19-4 but must replace two all-South Jersey performers. Still, this is annually one of South Jersey’s top programs and this season should be no different.

Moorestown Quakers (pictured)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Returning veterans include senior setters Kevin Deam and Austin Jacob, senior opposite Mike Nelson, senior middle Dean Shi, junior middle/outside Sean Kirsch and sophomore outside Jeff Nelson.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: The usual strong teams will surface – Eastern, Cherry Hill East, Cherry Hill West, Cinnaminson and Collingswood, to name a few.

OUTLOOK: The Quaker went 8-2 in their division and will again be a factor. There is clearly the potential to be a Top 10 team in South Jersey.

Washington Township Minutemen

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Derek Nipps is a team captain who led the team in kills. Junior captain Evan Carey is a power hitter who plays opposite of Nipps. Other promising returning starters, all juniors, are middle hitter Jack Killion; defensive specialist, setter and all-around player Geno Marrone; and middle hitter Jim Moffit.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Defending Olympic American champion Cherry Hill East remains the favorite, while Eastern should be a serious contender.

OUTLOOK: The Minutemen were 12-7 last season and it’s possible to increase the win total, but unseating Cherry Hill East for the division title may be too big a task.

Click here for the spring schedules.

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family’s High School Spring Sports Preview, January, 2012.
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