After seeing their second loss of the season last Thursday, in a hard-fought 2-3 battle against Caesar Rodney, the Indian River High School volleyball team seems to have found their niche, coming out victorious on Tuesday night with a shut-out against Dover.
Their performance, producing their first win of the season, showed an entirely different team than the one that played in their season-opening loss a week prior. Serves were on, players were communicating and Indian River started to look more like a team.
“We came out a lot stronger than we have,” said head coach Jess Dodd, who was pleased that the team was able to turn things around. The Lady Indians capitalized early, taking the first game 25-12. Dover responded in the following games, keeping it close, though IR still came out ahead, 25-21 and 25-22, to secure the 3-0 victory.
“We got everybody in, and off the bench,” said Dodd. “That’s always a good thing when you can rotate the players so they see time out there.”
An improvement in practices played a key role in Tuesday’s win.
“We had to work a little harder in practice and take everything a little more seriously,” said starter Hayley Brenan. “We knew we had a good game against [Caesar Rodney].”
“We have a drill called ‘in-a-row,’” Dodd said, reflecting on Monday’s practice. “We pick numbers and try to reach those goals just from hitting back and forth.”
“We’re really working together more as a team,” Altman said. “We’re practicing exchanges more. It gives you an adrenaline rush on volleys. Our team is trying to be more aggressive towards the ball and not let the short shots drop.”
Dodd noted, however, that answering back won’t always fare well in every game. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work against heavy hitters. We just have to play game-by-game,” he said.
Tuesday’s match saw some lengthy volleys from both sides, and quick teamwork from Brenan and fellow senior Nyssa Altman.
Altman provided five aces toward the win Tuesday and Katie Farber added two more. Hanna Daisey, Erika Cook and Brittany Baker each supplied an ace apiece. Strong net play from Brenan, Baker, Farber and Kami Brittingham saw a combined seven kills to help the Indians score.
Indian River were set to turn around Thursday to face Delmar for their first match-up on the road, after Coastal Point press time.
“They’re going to be better than last year,” Dodd anticipated of the Delmar team. “They’ve got a great coach over there. They’re going to run the ball down and play a scrappy defense. We have to put it away.”
Following their game at Delmar, the Indians will have another quick turnaround to play at Polytech on Saturday, Sept 22, Lake Forest at home on Tuesday and Cape Henlopen on the road next Thursday.