No matter how one looks at it, the 2018 Indian River girls’ volleyball team had another successful season. The Indians further put the rest of the state on notice that the sport is alive and well in the south.
According to several sources, the Indians did what no other southern Delaware team had ever done in the past — win a DIAA state playoff first-round match. Their 3-0 win over Appoquinimink at St. Mark’s High School on Thursday, Nov. 1, gave the Indians that elusive win, and a trip to the second round.
IR defeated Appo by scores of 25-11, 25-14 and 25-23.
In the second round, the Indians squared off with Archmere Academy, and struggled against one of the state’s perennial powerhouses, dropping a 3-0 decision. However, that loss does nothing to dim the shine from an otherwise strong 13-5 campaign.
“I knew we’d be good. I had high expectations and high standards for this year,” said Jim Barnes, who just completed his fourth season at the helm. “We didn’t accomplish the one goal I had for us, which was to beat Smyrna, and win the conference. We won a state tournament match, which we didn’t get to do last year. I am very happy we won it.”
In the match against Appo, the quartet of Raychel Ehlers, Marianni Chavez, Siera Johnson and Jessica Amezcua carried the Indians to the win.
Ehlers posted 16 kills to go along with four digs, a pair of blocks and an ace. Chavez recorded a match-high 21 assists, with two digs. Johnson was credited with four kills, three aces and three digs, while Amezcua added seven digs and an assist.
In the season-ending loss to Archmere, the Indians dropped the straight sets by scores of 25-12, 25-17 and 25-13. The win improved the Auks record to 15-1 overall. On the season, in those 15 wins, they only dropped six sets, while posting 10 shutouts.
For IR, Chavez led the team with 21 assists and two digs. Amezcua chipped in with nine digs and an assist. Ehlers added eight kills and three digs, while Johnson had seven kills and four digs. Brandi Mitchell contributed four kills and three digs.
“I was happy with our improvements, and the learning experience we had should go a long way for next year,” Barnes continued. “We lost three big seniors last year, and we didn’t have any this year. This group, we are gonna be that much more mature, and better with all the experience they were able to get this year.
“This program has come so far in my four years. We don’t just want to compete, but I wanna see us start to win. We have so many good things to focus on. It was a fun team to coach, but we can get better. People know who we are, and we are gonna get everybody’s best next year.”
By Jason Feather