Last season, Delmar and Smyrna high schools added volleyball to their dance card — something that was, in fact, crucial to the creation of the Southern Henlopen Conference. Indian River won the Southern crown with an 11-7 record last season. This week in their opening week of play, the Lady Indians won their first two games by the score of 3-1 over Delmarva Christian and Southern Henlopen Conference contender Smyrna.
Indian River head coach Jess Dodd expressed some concern over whether or not his team would be prepared to play together after experiencing inconsistent attendance at both practice and scrimmages, but his players erased any of those doubts following their win over Smyrna.
“We’re ahead of the game,” Dodd said. “We’re getting good plays from the outside and that’s our game plan. We want to get good hits and swing away.”
“It depends on the serve. If we’re not going to get tough serves then we can run our offense,” Dodd said. “But, again, it starts with sets to the outside hitters. If we start with a good pass from the setter then we don’t have to chase. If we have to chase the pass then it moves everyone else.”
Indian River’s outside hitters, Hayley Brennan and Renee Davidson, combined for 26 kills on 26 assists from setter Hilary Hawkins.
Indian River coasted past Smyrna 25-14 in the first game partly because they communicated so well, but the Lady Eagles began to play better and only lost by two points in the second match (25-23) before they won their first game (25-14 – Smyrna).
Smyrna had scoring runs of seven and five points in its third win, partly because of blocking errors and errant kill attempts. Indian River had four kill attempts blocked and three went long or wide in the third game, but the Lady Indians circled the wagons and sealed the deal in a back-and-forth fourth game for the 3-1 victory.
The fourth game had four lead changes and tied seven times before the Lady Indians were able to crank out a 7-0 run to give them an 18-9 lead heading down the stretch. Smyrna took advantage of a series of net violations and netted kill attempts, and eventually pulled the game within four points late in the game (23-19).
Smyrna called a timeout at that point but from there Indian River cleaned up their mistakes. Brennan and Katie Farber combined for a block attempt, and Indian River’s 24th point and a double hit by Smyrna sealed the victory, though Dodd did think his team had some room to improve.
Volleyball requires attentive players because the action is so furious. A player may dig a ball out only to be set up to for the kill on the next hit, so their teammates must be ready to make the necessary shifts.
“We’re taking our sweet time [getting back into our starting positions],” Dodd said. “We’re still not getting to our base positions soon enough.”
“We still have some chemistry to build,” he concluded.
Indian River (2-0) was set to host Southern Henlopen contender Delmar on Sept. 14 before traveling to Caravel Academy on Sept. 19 and Caesar Rodney on Sept. 21. Both of those games begin at 5 p.m.