Indian River volleyball chalked up wins last Thursday at Delmar and home on Tuesday against Lake Forest, despite battling tough opposition at this year’s Indian River Challenge, held Saturday, Oct. 21.
Thursday’s win at Delmar pushed the Indians to 9-4 on the season. Coming off a tough loss only two days prior to meeting Sussex Central was not easy, noted Coach Jess Dodd. But the girls made the 3-0 on-the-road win look effortless, despite junior starter Hayley Brennan’s absence, due to a sprained ankle.
Renee Davidson contributed five kills and 11 aces in the match, while Hilary Hawkins had four aces of her own, 11 assists, and three kills. Nyssa Altman supplied three kills and nine digs in the victory, and Kami Brittingham and Chelsea Collins each contributed two aces.
The Indian River Volleyball Challenge, held last Saturday, saw talent from not only the host team, but from Dover, Dickinson, Sussex Central, Cape Henlopen and William Penn high schools, too. Teams were matched up based on their season records as of Oct. 18, seeding Dover at No. 1, Dickinson second and Indian River third.
After each team played three full-length matches, their tournament record was tallied to determine who competed in the championship games.
Several concerns plague teams going into all-day tournaments. “Conditioning is an important part of competition,” said Indian River coach Jess Dodd. Games are played back-to-back-to-back, with little break time between.
“The lack of our starter is definitely a main concern,” noted Brennan.
“We know how each other plays,” added Hawkins. “We’re still trying to adjust without having her out there.”
“The first games in our matches are usually slow, too. We usually come back in the second game,” said Brennan.
“You’ve really got to be ready,” said Hawkins. “We’ve practiced hard for this. We just have to remember to talk and cover.”
The other teams had their own thoughts and preparations going into the tournament.
“I like my team to be challenged,” said Dover’s head coach, Greg McCuskor. Coming into the tournament ranked first is never a guarantee, he noted. “You can’t take any team lightly. You never know what to expect.”
Dickinson High coach David S. Lee said that the tournament is a great experience for his team.
“I especially want each player to be improving individually and, also, I want the team to improve altogether,” he said. “If they do that, good things will come here.”
Dickinson was seeded fourth last year when they upset Sussex Central for the Indian River Challenge Championship. “You really have to make adjustments and be ready,” said Lee, concerning matches against teams he hasn’t seen during regular season play.
At the end of the day, it was Dover who came out on top, beating Dickinson 3-1 for the championship. Indian River pulled off victories against Cape Henlopen (3-1) and William Penn (3-0), but fell to Dickinson (0-3). The loss placed them against Sussex Central, whom they powered past with a 3-0 win to seal third place.
Katlyn Farber and Collins contributed four aces apiece, while Hawkins added three and Davidson and Brittingham each had two. Davidson rocketed 12 kills in the victory, as Collins put up seven of her own. Hawkins also put up 14 assists and had two blocks. Davidson was named Indian River’s tournament player.
With the tournament behind them, the ladies fought a hard-hitting match at Tuesday’s Senior Night game against Lake Forest. Marking one of the last times seniors Mandy Buet, Davidson and Hawkins would ever step onto the court with the team they played with for years, Indian River came out with something to prove.
The girls fought back the emotion of all they had experienced as a team and thrived from a 0-2 deficit to beat Lake Forest 3-2, giving them a 13-5 record on the season.
Hayley Brennan was back on her feet and contributed 10 kills, 11 digs, a block and an ace in the win. Davidson had 18 kills, 31 digs and an ace, while Hawkins put up 32 assists, 20 digs and three aces. Altman and Collins combined for eight kills and 18 digs. Collins also added eight kills.
Indian River was ready to finish off their year strong with their last game of the season on Thursday night, Oct. 26, at Polytech, after Coastal Point press time.