CHATHAM, NJ - When sophomore Eliza Kelley showed up to get ready for Chatham's state sectional girls volleyball match on Wednesday, she received a surprise assignment from coach Anna Amster.
Kelley was told she would be filling in for senior libero Greta Luria, who was unable to make the game.
"I found out about five minutes after I got here," Kelley said. "I was a little nervous, but it felt really great to be playing."
Top-seeded Chatham shrugged off the absence of Luria and her 118 digs to win its fifth straight match, advancing the Cougars into the semifinal round of the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 state tournament.
The Cougars' 25-11, 25-14 decision over Payne Tech (8-8) set up a semifinal matchup between Chatham (12-3) and No. 4 seed Summit (11-2) scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday at CHS. Summit defeated Barringer, 2-0, in its quarterfinal match.
"Greta couldn't be here today, so we had to make adjustments," Amster said. "She'll be back for the next game.
"The girls really stepped it up. When a player goes down for whatever reason or a player is unable to perform for whatever reason, some kids can use that as an excuse, but these kids didn't. We've been using Eliza in multiple positions in practice. The team did a good job of stepping up and playing hard. We got the result we needed to get into the next round."
Lauren Burke and Eliza Kelley talk about the win
Chatham seniors Lauren Burke and Brenda Jaroker led the way, with outside Burke collecting seven kills, 10 digs, a block, and three service aces. Setter Jaroker was credited with 17 assists and four digs. Junior middle Mia Baumgardner ended with five kills, two blocks and two digs.
Sydney Dropkin puts away the set by Jaroker to give Chatham an 11-4 lead in the first set (see below)
Jemma Thorne scored the point to give Chatham a commanding 21-9 lead in the opening set (see below).
COUGAR NOTES: Senior setter Brenda Jaroker was credited with 17 assists in the win, pushing her season total to 249 and giving her a chance to amass 1,000 career assists. Jaroker, who had a remarkable total of 439 assists last season, will take 982 career assists into the sectional semifinal vs. Summit. Lisa Steward finished with 1,145 career assists in 2017 as a four-year varsity player for the Cougars. Jaroker is a three-year varsity player ... Senior outside Lauren Burke leads Chatham in kills (143), digs (125) and service aces (21) ... Burke and Nikki Lurz each hit three service aces vs. Payne Tech ... Coach Anna Amster still had work to do after the state tournament win. She also coaches the Cougar boys and they held a practice after the game in preparation for the upcoming spring season.