"We had heard about Gabby," West Morris senior setter Brianna Brothers said. "We knew she was really good. At our first practice, Gabby walked in and got the sickest hit. It was right down the line."
Once scrimmages and games began, Savite, selected Most Valuable Player when the Wolfpack defeated Randolph, 25-22, 25-21, in the Morris County Tournament final at Roxbury High School on Saturday, continued to provide more jaw-dropping moments to the delight of her teammates.
"She's amazing now and she's going to be more amazing," Brothers said of Savite, the outside hitter who had seven kills, eight digs, six service points and three aces for top-seeded West Morris in the MCT title match.
From the start, Savite, an outside hitter, has not played like a freshman. Her game and mindset are mature. She fit in immediately.
"We're a family. We welcomed her in," Wolfpack senior middle hitter Summer Koop said. "Gabby works so hard. She deserves this. She's awesome."
Although Savite seemed to be perfectly calm, that wasn't the case. She admits to having jitters.
"Every game, I get nervous," said Savite, who gave up basketball, softball, track and soccer for volleyball. "After the first few points, it's out of me."
Savite said receiving such a high honor was "so overwhelming and so exciting."
Better yet, having Savite play a prominent role has not been a problem.
"A freshman stepping in to take spots from other people could be cause for resentment," Wolfpack coach Jim Balella said. "There's none of that here."
West Morris (20-3) rallied in both sets, recovering from five and six-point deficits, respectively.
"When you're losing, there's some doubt in the back of your mind but I knew we'd push through," Koop said. "We're all behind each other. We wanted to get it back and push it out."
"I think we were playing a little uptight," Brothers said. "We got flustered when we were down. We kept our heads in it."
There was a multitude of standouts for the Wolfpack, who claimed their third consecutive MCT championship and 10th in school history. Junior outside hitter Annie Halbert had seven kills and 13 digs. Koop contributed three aces. Brothers finished with 13 assists. Aniela Huizenga, a junior opposite, had 12 assists. Libero Danielle Olcese had 12 digs.
Balella, of course, was pleased by his team's performance and teamwork.
"We were down in both games and battled back," Balella said. "It was a matter of refocusing and staying as calm as possible."
Koop felt opposing teams have been underestimating the Wolfpack because they lack height. In past years, their players were as tall as 6 foot 2. Now, West Morris' tallest players are 5 foot 9, maybe 5 foot 10. They make up for it by digging and passing well.
"We're shorter now but we know we can do it," Koop said.
The Wolfpack had to contend with Randolph's Aliyah Huland El, also a standout basketball player, and Cora Bidlack at the net. They frustrated both players by denying their kill attempts and being unyielding when blocking.
In the second set, Savite was serving when West Morris gained the lead early on. Trailing 9-5, Savite had five consecutive service points to put the Wolfpack in front. Halbert and Koop had impressive service runs later in the set.
"I'm ecstatic," Brothers said. "I've come to every final since 2000 because my sister, Devon, played. Now I'm getting the chance to play. To win it is great."