IR volleyball injury comes at a painful time

Indian River volleyball moved to 8-4 on their season this week. They earned a triumphant 3-0 win over Smyrna on Thursday, Oct. 12, but suffered a hard-fought loss Tuesday night against Sussex Central, attributed partly to a starter’s injury.
Coastal Point • Ruslana Lambert: Nyssa Altman digs for a save in a recent game.Coastal Point • Ruslana Lambert:
Nyssa Altman digs for a save in a recent game.

The Indians came off a bye prior to last Thursday’s game. “That was really a plus at this time in the season,” said head coach Jess Dodd. “It’s tough to judge because it could easily switch the momentum. We were able to use the time off to reorganize and prepare ourselves.”

Indian River did indeed come prepared, dominating the first two games and managing a close 25-23 score in the third game to seal the match. “We scored well,” said Dodd. “We had more firepower, stronger serves and more kills [than Smyrna].”

Senior Renee Davidson dominated the net with 14 kills, while juniors Hayley Brennan and Chelsea Collins each contributed six of their own. Senior Hilary Hawkins served up five aces and supported the team’s offense with 18 assists.

But Tuesday’s home match against Sussex Central had a different outcome. Hayley Brennan was injured early in the match when she suffered a sprained ankle in the first game. “She was digging a high ball in the back,” said Dodd. “But she came down funny. She didn’t hit anyone or anything on the way down, but when she landed, her leg was at a 90 degree angle.”

With one of his starters benched, Dodd had to change things up. “We switched the order around. The girls had to play different positions.” The team was shaky and lost the first game, 15-25. They quickly answered back in the second and third games, leading the match 2-1. Sussex Central’s consistency in the fourth game, though, proved to be more than Indian River could handle and they lost in the fifth game, 19-17.

Davidson put up 13 kills and 16 digs, while Hawkins provided 18 assists and four aces for the Indians. Juniors Nyssa Altman and Collins combined for seven kills and 14 digs. Collins also contributed five aces. Junior Kami Brittingham tallied four kills. The Indians, however, could not capitalize.

“We killed ourselves with unforced errors,” said Dodd. “We would get plenty of opportunities, but we couldn’t put it away. I give a lot of credit to Central. We just didn’t play like we wanted it.”

The Indian River team was preparing itself this week for a match on Thursday, Oct. 19, at Delmar, after Coastal Point press time. Dodd said he expected Brennan would still likely be nursing the injury for the Thursday game.

The Indians defeated Delmar 3-0 at home back in September. “Delmar’s a good team,” said Dodd. “They’re young, and they can keep the ball in play. We just have to make sure we bring our best.”

In addition to Thursday’s game, Indian River volleyball team will be hosting the Indian River Challenge on Saturday, Oct. 21. “Hopefully, we’ll have Hayley back by then,” said Dodd.

Among the other high schools participating in the Challenge are William Penn, John Dickinson, Cape Henlopen, Dover and Sussex Central. Of all the teams in the tournament, Cape Henlopen is the only team the Indians have defeated this season. With losses to Dover and Sussex Central, and no prior match-ups this season against William Penn or John Dickinson, Dodd said the tournament will definitely live up to its name, as a challenge.

“Dickinson High is undefeated in their conference, Flight B, and William Penn is in the Flight A division. They’ll be tough games.”

In the Indian River Challenge, each team plays four full-length games in a round-robin fashion. After those games are played, the fifth- and sixth-place teams will play each other, as will the third- and fourth-place teams. The top two teams will play near the end of the tournament to determine the winner. “It will really test the conditioning of the teams,” said Dodd. “It’s going to come down to which team still has it in them at the end.”

The tournament will begin at 8 a.m. in the Indian River High School gym. Admission will cost $3 for students and $4 for adults. For more information, contact Indian River High School at (302)732-1500.