BT Boy’s Volleyball: League Champions

Stephen Lu

The BT team during their match against Clifton on 5/4
The BT team during their match against Clifton on 5/4

The Bergen Tech Boy’s Volleyball team became co-champions of the Big North- Liberty league after winning their game against Clifton on May 4th. For the first time in history, a sports banner will be hung in the school gym for the BT boy’s volleyball team.

Going into their game against Clifton, the BT team was tied for the league lead with Clifton, making this game arguably the most important of the season. The team itself brought plenty of energy to the court and it showed in their performance.

The BT Boy’s Volleyball program had been waiting for this moment for years. All the hard work and preparation before and during the season came down to this one game and everyone on the team was well aware of this.

“We all knew how important this game was, so we were pumped up and ready to go,” said varsity libero Ivan Kozlov. The BT team had lost its only other match against Clifton earlier in the season, so they knew this game would be a challenge.

From the start, the BT team took the lead. They continued to push points across the scoreboard and won the first set by eight points. After this set, it was clear that the Clifton team was a bit startled by the BT team’s improved play and decided that enough was enough.

Clifton came back in the second set with more energy and this set was much closer than the first. With each point, the BT teammates cheered each other on. They knew that their margin of error was very slim and they had to focus on winning each and every point. As the game winded down, it proved to be a close match. In the end, junior middle Dan Koo spiked the ball, which deflected off the opposing middle blocker and landed on the ground. The BT team had won.

When asked about his thoughts after the game, Koo kept it short and to the point. “It was an amazing experience,” he said.

In order for the BT team to even reach this position in the standings, they had to win their previous league game against Passaic Tech. This time, the teams proved to be very close in ability, but the BT team was able to win the first set by just two points. Then, they lost the second set by seven points. This got the Passaic Tech team’s morale up and their energy increased exponentially with each winning point. This energy got the Passaic Tech team off to a good start in the third set. It was during a timeout around this point when it settled into the minds of the BT players that this was a must win game.

If they did not win, then they would not even get a chance at winning the league title. This led the BT team to storm back and mount a tremendous comeback. It was extremely close at the end and each team went back and forth with the points. Each team continued to force deuces and the energy in the gym was insane. It was loud and it was intense.

At one point late in the match, a Passaic Tech player tried to bump the ball over the net, but it deflected off part of the ceiling and came back to their side. Then, a Passaic Tech player bumped it back over the net, but the ref called out of bounds. This caused quite a bit of controversy because the Passaic Tech coach argued that it was fair play for the team to bump the ball back over the net, so long as it originally bounced back to their side. However, the Bergen Tech coach made a stance that the point of deflection was on the Bergen Tech side of the court, thereby ruling the ball out of bounds. The two referees deliberated and ultimately decided that the ball was indeed out of bounds and BT would get the point.

Shortly after, with BT one point away from winning the game, one of their hitters hit the ball and it landed within the sideline of the court on the other side, which should have been in bounds. The BT bench jumped up, ready to celebrate. However, the line judge (notably a member of the Passaic Tech JV team), ruled that the ball was out of bounds. The BT varsity coach was noticeably upset but there was nothing that could be done. The game went back and forth and finally, the BT team won with a score of 28-26.

Although these two games were key to BT’s success, their league title required hard work and effort in each and every game throughout the entire season. After a disappointing 2-20 season last year, many people may have have underestimated BT’s potential this year. However, the team and the coach never doubted their abilities and it clearly showed in their results.

“It often takes a hard fall in order to bounce back stronger than ever,” Sophomore varsity outside hitter Adam Papenhausen said regarding the team’s growth in the past year.

Also in his second season, BT player Dennis Krimer offered his own assessment of the team’s improvement from last season. “We were pretty bad last year, but through lots of dedication and hard work we were able to be victorious this year.”

Now,  the BT team has qualified for the state tournament for the first time in about ten years. Their first state tournament game is on Friday 5/20 at 4 pm in the BCA gymnasium against West Caldwell Tech.

Prior to beginning the state tournament, varsity team member Varun Subramaniam said, “It’s great that we tied for first in our league, but we can’t stop now. Let’s keep it going.”