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West Lions nab first state volleyball championship

Special to The Sun
The Cherry Hill West High Lions defied the odds and defeated the heavily favored, number-two ranked Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders, 30 to 1, in a three-game championship series.

The Cherry Hill West High School boys volleyball team notched a historic victory at the 2024 Group 3 State Championship on June 5 at South Brunswick High School.

The Lions defied the odds and defeated the heavily favored, number-two ranked Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders, 30 to 1, in a three-game series. The win marks the first state title for the team and the first state championship for any West team since 2007.

Ranked 18th in the state at the start of the season, the Lions were led by seniors Riley Burton, Tavion Bailey, Andre Scott, and Michael Suarez as they clawed their way up the rankings. Impressive performances by juniors Angel Torres Jimenez, Taylor Rosenwald, Tyler Carlisle and Nate Goldwasser helped the team secure a fifth seed in the Group 3 tournament.

Embracing the underdog mentality, the Lions alos defied expectations with a series of impressive upsets. They conquered the fourth-seeded West Windsor Plainsboro North Knights, beat the top-seeded West Windsor Plainsboro South Pirates and dominated the second-seeded Northern Burlington Greyhounds.

Their number 13 state ranking set the stage for their epic clash with the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders. With a formidable record of 91-4 over the past three years – as well as being Group 3 champions – the Raiders entered the championship match as clear favorites.

The Lions, however, refused to be intimidated. After dropping the first game, they rallied behind a dominant performance by their middle hitters, Tavion Bailey and Andre Scott. Player of the match Michael Suarez delivered a staggering 28 kills, carrying the Lions to a hard-fought 2-1 victory and securing the coveted title.

The team ended the season ranked second in the state, with a record of 25-2.

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