EGG HARBOR CITY — Pinelands Regional High School senior Emma Capriglione has the same routine before every volleyball match.

“I listen to music, and I just stare off into the distance to focus myself,” said Capriglione, 17, of Little Egg Harbor Township.

The routine more than paid off as the senior led Pinelands to a 2-0 win over Cedar Creek on Tuesday. She finished with 12 kills and 10 service points as the Wildcats improved to 4-0 this season.

Pinelands took the first set 25-22 in what was mostly a back-and-forth affair. In the second set, however, the Wildcats came out firing and made relatively quick work of the Pirates 25-12. The difference, according to Pinelands coach Kathy Bennett, was her senior middle hitter.

“Emma Capriglione is just phenomenal,” Bennett said. “Today, (they) kept setting her, and she just put everything down.”

According to Cedar Creek coach Brian Beck, the biggest issue for the Pirates was their struggles passing the ball. But he said he was still pleased with his team’s effort against one of the state’s top volleyball programs.

“We know that we can compete with them,” Beck said. “We’re right there with them. Today, in the second game, we just didn’t have it. In the first game, we missed a few serves, or else it may have gone our way.”

Both programs are still relatively new — Pinelands enters its sixth season and Cedar Creek its seventh — and this was their first regular-season matchup. They played together during the summer, and Bennett said she sees a lot of potential in Pirates.

“They’ve shown tremendous improvement,” Bennett said. “They have a great program and great coaching staff.

“By the end of the season, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”

And Beck had high praise for the Shore Conference B South team that defeated his Pirates.

“This is the No. 4 seed in the state,” Beck said of the Wildcats. “So we wanted the better teams on our schedule because it’s going to make us better.”

Cedar Creek returns to action when they travel to ACIT on Friday. The Red Hawks are another top Cape-Atlantic League team, having finished 17-7 in 2018.

Pinelands also has a big match Friday. The Wildcats will host Shore Conference B South rival Donovan Catholic. The schools split their season series 1-1 in 2018 and tied for the lead in the B South division.

Capriglione knows the Griffins are not a team to take lightly.

“They are insanely tough,” Capriglione said. “We’ve played them at their place, and we’ve played them at our place, and each time, it’s a very close game. It’s really intense, and it’s just fun to play them.”

For Cedar Creek, senior Kylie Ackerman had five service points and six digs. Senior Nina Casselberry had two kills and five digs. Senior Angelina Cox had eight assists and six digs.

For Pinelands, Allison Grotts had eight assists and three service points. Emilia Savich had 11 assists and five service points.

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