Photo: John Jones NJ Advance Media

Posted On: 04/13/21 11:09 AM

Group 1 opens up tournament play today. These moments are what these girls have played all year for. So let’s take a dive into some players to watch and I’ll even throw in a prediction. 

North 1 Section

The North 1 Section of Group 1 features 16 squads. Midland Park is the top seed in this section. 

Players to Watch

Jessica Balala Jessica Balala OH Midland Park | 2022 State NJ (Midland Park)

Balala is the centerpiece of the Midland Park defense. She ensures everyone is set up in the correct spots. Her athleticism makes her difficult to play as she gets to balls many cannot. 

Kate Rutowski (Park Ridge)

Rutowski is one people will be talking about after this tournament. She had a great year on the outside with 102 kills so far. Her ability to create angles for herself with her live arm make her difficult to stop. 

Kiara Polanco Kiara Polanco OH Bogota | 2021 State NJ (Bogota)

Polanco has a lethal swing. The team runs through her and there is not much one can do if she gets going offensively. Bogota may have a high seed because of a late start to the season but watch out for Polanco. 

Prediction

Bogota over Midland Park

North 2

The North 2 section of Group 1 features 14 teams with Verona as the top seed in the bracket. 

Players to Watch

Megan Meehan (Verona)

Meehan is an all-around outside for Verona. She can make you pay from anywhere on the court. But what goes unnoticed is how great of a passer she is too. Watch for her to be all over the court making plays. 

Jaylinn Colon (Lyndhurst)

Colon has great precision with her passing and makes her teammates better on the court. She can always see her impacting the game even if it’s something small. If you want to watch a player this week look no further than Colon. 

Nicole Dallara (Hasbrouck Heights)

If there is one-player who can take over this tournament to make a run. It’s Dallara. She has a live arm and is a must watch in how she plays to setup her teams success. She’s been doing it all season, I don’t think she is going to stop now. 

Prediction

Verona over Hasbrouck Heights

Central

The Central section in Group 1 as 7 teams with Dayton as the overall top seed. 

Players to Watch

Elizabeth Blank (New Providence)

Blank is the focal point for New Providence. She imprints the game in all phases. She can pass, set, hit. I think her best attribute may be her serve. It’s nothing short of phenomenal. She is almost impossible to stop entirely. 

Janasia Carter (McNair)

Carter’s versatility is what comes to mind. She lines up on the outside and in the middle. She has great anticipation of where the ball is going defensively to get blocks along with anticipating defensive rotation for her swing. 

Raina Hasenauer (Roselle Park)

Hasenauer is a great passer and her stats may deceive you along with her deception as a setter. She keeps opposing teams off balance where she is going with the ball and creates plenty of scoring opportunities. 

Prediction

McNair over Dayton

South

Lastly, we have the South section that features 10 teams with Highland Park as the overall top seed. 

Players to Watch

Victoria Li (Highland Park)

Li is a setter for Highland Park with pinpoint accuracy on her passes. It is extremely rare when she misses a set. She often makes it look easier than it is. 

Emily Kraynanski (Delaware Valley)

Kraynanski is an excellent opposite who sometimes flies under the radar. She has the all of the shots and great athleticism. Watch for her to make a name for herself in this tournament. 

Carine Medellus (Roselle)

Medellus has been one of the bright spots in a struggling season for Roselle. She leads the team in almost every statistical category. She is dominant in the middle and she’s one who will be raising eyebrows of people. 

Prediction 

Highland Park over Collingswood