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Mavericks bring back their entire roster after making the 6A second round in '18

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Mountainside senior Izzi Szulczewski is one of the best all-around players in the Metro League.

With Jesuit retooling this fall, the Metro League mantle is there for the taking.

How quickly the Crusaders can get up to speed and incorporate essentially an entirely new starting lineup remains to be seen. What's certain is if there's a team that can overtake Metro it's Mountainside.

A year ago the Mavericks, without a senior in the program, grabbed a two-set lead against Sheldon in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs before Irish raced back and stole the next three sets. It was a rather harsh way to see a state tournament dream dashed. But that shocking defeat is Mountainside's motivation going into 2019. The Mavericks have the most returners by far in Metro, stars such as Izzi Szulczewski, Mackenzie Leith, Kristi Mazzotta and Grace Clark who were each all-conference. Jesuit is tough as it always is, but the Mavericks are the hunt for greatness. 

"Now that the team has experience playing at the varsity level, we are working to improve this season and earn a position in the state tournament," Mountainside head coach Brooke Mayo said. "Jesuit is a perennial powerhouse and will continue to lead the Metro League. The Metro League is very competitive with two to three teams consistently making it to the state tournament. We are looking to compete for a Metro League state playoff spot this season by finishing in the top three in league."

Szulczewski is an excellent all-around player and received first-team All-Metro honors in 2018. She does a great job running the offense and is an effective hitter and blocker, Mayo said. Szulczewski is one of the more seasoned players in Metro. She started from day one her freshman year at Aloha, took on a starring role as a sophomore, then transferred to Mountainside for her final two years of high school. The springy senior is one of the most athletic, entertaining players on the floor, a star with easy hops and ample power at the net. She's one of the Mavericks' best passers as well. 

"We will look to Izzi to lead the team again this season," Mayo said. "She does a great job running the offense and is an effective hitter and blocker."

Clark is a great passer and leader in the backcourt, Mayo said. She received first team All-Metro honors last year. According to Mayo, Leith is a consistent force as an outside hitter who brings passion to the team. She received second-team All-Metro honors a season ago. Kristi Mazzotta is a strong "outside hitter and leader on and off the court for our team", May said. She received third-team All-

Metro honors in 2018.

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