Indian River volleyball falls short on the season

Indian River’s 2006 volleyball season came to an abrupt end on Oct. 26 at Polytech.

“It was a heartbreaker,” said Indian River coach Jess Dodd. “We lost by two points, mainly due to unforced errors.”

Overall, Dodd said he wasn’t too upset with the season, although he was distraught to see it be over already. “The girls played really well. I would have liked to have some more wins in there, but maybe I’m a little hard-headed.” Dodd said he was also not thrilled about the way the Henlopen Conference is handled in the state playoffs.

According to the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA), the state tournament comprises 16 teams, including the first-place team in the Blue Hen Flight “A,” the first-place team in the Blue Hen Flight “B,” the first-place team in the Catholic Conference, the first-place team in the Independent Conference, the Henlopen Conference Champion and 11 at-large teams.

Under these conditions, the first-place team out of the Henlopen North will play the first-place team from the Henlopen South to determine which team will advance to the state tournament. Dover earned this year’s Henlopen Conference Championship when they defeated Lake Forest, on Monday, Oct. 30.

Since the division of the Henlopen Conference into north and south two years ago, the Henlopen Athletic Conference (HAC) Board of Directors has twice requested that the winner of the South Division receive automatic berth to the state tournament. Both requests were denied by Volleyball State Tournament Chairwoman Debbie Corrado.

“In most state tournaments, they allow for [automatic] places for division champions,” said Indian River athletic director Paul Kmetz. “Except volleyball.”

“If you win your division, you should be in there,” he added. “Teams are locked into conference games,” said Kmetz. “Then you choose teams you play throughout the season.”

In these games, a point index is applied, awarding one point for a regular-season win and no points for a loss. Bonus points are awarded, as well: one for playing an opponent with a win-loss record of .501 or better and an additional bonus point for playing an opponent with a win-loss record of .701. The points are then added for each team and divided by the number of matches played to determine the index.

“The part that’s unfair in our division,” said Kmetz, “is that Lake Forest, who won the [volleyball] conference this year, is not automatically granted a berth.” All other fall athletic teams in the Henlopen South division that place first get a free trip to the state tournament. “It’s a slap on us as a conference. Volleyball is not fairly represented. You want everything to be consistent and it’s not.”

The North and South Henlopen districts are based on enrollment, not geography. Smyrna will be moving to the North conference next year, meaning Milford will move to the South. Milford, however, does not have a volleyball team. “That will have an affect on next year’s conference season,” said Kmetz.

With the postseason behind him, Dodd is looking forward to next year with his fairly young team. “We had a bunch of juniors this year so, hopefully, we’ll have them returning next year. I just want to make sure that the girls are going to improve on what they need to between now and then,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”