To be the best, you have to beat the best.
The Morristown High School varsity volleyball team knows this well. After recording only one loss so far this season, the No. 2 Colonials get a chance at payback at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Morris County Tournament finals. They face No. 1 West Morris Central, those responsible for that singular blemish on an otherwise perfect record. The game will be held at Roxbury High School and will determine who is best in Morris County.
At 25-1, the volleyball team has little to complain about this season, especially considering where they were just two years ago, when the team was 10-14.
The climb to the top for a team began in 2011 when they tied the club's all-time win mark at 21, going 21-7. "But they have obviously surpassed that already," said seven-year coach Ron Davenport. "The group they passed was a dynamic group in 2009, but this team is our deepest ever in talent."
Much of that can be credited to having a strong core of senior leadership on the team, including six who have moved through their high school careers together.
"We've played with each other four years, so that's important," said senior Kathy Hormaza.
Davenport took it one-step further. "The reason for the improvement is their tremendous heart and dedication to this sport and to each other," he said.
For those like senior Jennifer Remler (a co-captain along with fellow senior Bradley Taylor), it has been a blast to have people come up to them in class and let them know how well they have played.
Remler said that fan support has been key to the team's motivation in this, their best year ever. "We want to thank them because they make us want to play better," she said.
But, it's not over. To be the best, you have to beat the best.
"We're pumped," she said. "Hopefully, we get a big crowd."
"We want a big crowd and we want to beat them," Hormaza added.
After West Morris Central on Saturday, four games round out the regular season, with state tournament finals beginning the following week. And, then?
While the seniors still have not decided where they plan on going to college, several said they likely will continue volleyball wherever they land.
While happy and proud, as both a coach and father of a young daughter himself, Davenport said he is still in denial that an end to this magic season is close. "It's going to tougher than usual for me," he said.
"I've seen this group of seniors become an amazing group of young women that I hope my daughter will one day be just like them when she's their age," the coach said. "They have been there for me in my evolution as a coach and as a man. They've tolerated me as a single guy with a focus for volleyball and only winning to a married man with children who finally loves and appreciates what a special opportunity this all is.
"So, yes, I'll miss them but, Lord willing, we'll always be a part of each other's lives," Davenport added.