LIVINGSTON _ Morris Knolls' Erin Bongo unveiled her jump float serve during the high school season but wasn't very satisfied with the results.
The serve sometimes went into the net or didn't have the desired effect.
Bongo, an outside hitter, went back to her volleyball lab, in this case, the Atlantic Valley Club, and worked on perfecting it.
On Dec. 8 at the 2013 NJSCA Senior All-Star Games at Livingston High School, Bongo gave the serve, akin to a knuckleball in baseball, another try.
This time, it was on and even resulted in several aces, making Bongo's scholastic finale more memorable.
"It didn't click for me in a few matches so I practiced it," Bongo said. "Having it work was a nice feeling. I don't think I had enough confidence before. Now I have the routine down."
The jump float serve is made with an open hand and is typically more powerful than a regular serve.
"It's harder to pass and I get more intimidated by it," said Bongo, who also had key digs off of hard-hit balls. "I hope to use it in college. It will give me more of an advantage."
Bongo would like to play at Dickinson College, located in Carlisle, Pa. and is in the midst of the early decision process.
Participating in the all-star games was a thrill for Bongo, a member of the track and field team in the spring. She relished playing against some of her club teammates, including Shannon Pilsbury of Watchung Hills and Elena Scarano of Westfield.
"It was cool," Bongo said. "We're usually on the same side."
Knowing her high school career was at an end brought about conflicting feelings.
"I'm wearing my jersey for the last time," Bongo said. "It's bittersweet. I'm a little sad but excited. In my mind, I know that this is the end."
Bongo was on the Green Team, which was coached by Lee Clowers of Mount Olive. Clowers and Bongo's father, Bob, a cross country and track coach, teach in Boonton.
"It was weird having Mr. Clowers as a coach but it was good weird," Bongo said. "We go against Mount Olive and that's one of our big games. He's also my dad's friend."
Four other Morris County girls took part in the all-star games: Jessica Castro and Kyara Ramirez of Dover, Sydney Summerville Mount Olive and Anique Barch of Villa Walsh.
The 6-foot tall Castro, a middle hitter, turned in a strong effort, making three kills over the first four games. She was proud to be chosen.
"This is so exciting," Castro said. "It's a way to represent the school. There have been some good matchups. There are many different skill levels here."
Although volleyball is over, Castro has more sports to play. She is a forward for the basketball squad and is a first baseman/left fielder for the softball team.
As a captain in volleyball, she liked to "rev up the team." She encouraged her teammates to "give their all, even against the tough teams."
Castro experienced another high point in her young life this fall when she was selected Dover's homecoming queen.
Barch, headed to Tufts in September of 2014, has been a four-year starter for the Vikings.
"Playing in the all-star game was such a fun experience," Barch said. "It was exciting to play with and against girls I've played club with or girls who I've seen as state-wide stat leaders this past season. Seeing all of that talent in one gym makes me proud to represent New Jersey."
More than 100 players competed in the all-star event. Each team played seven games.
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