The Delmarva Christian versus Cape Henlopen volleyball match was a Sussex County barnburner Sept. 7, as the Royals fought back from a 2-1 deficit to take the match in five sets.
After the Royals took the first set 25-15, Cape battled to 25-20 and 25-22 second- and third-set wins. The Royals then used consistent serving and strong net play to tie the match at two sets apiece. The Royals followed the momentum and the serve of senior Hannah Picconi, who slammed six straight points to give the visitors a 9-2 advantage. The Vikings fought hard, but they couldn’t catch up in the 15-point fifth set.
“In all of the scrimmages and play days we can look really brilliant for stretches, and then look very unsettled and lacking in confidence at other times,” said Delmarva Christian head coach Jim Berger. “If we could just ever stay confident and keep our foot on the gas the entire time, we’ll play a little better. It was kind of an unforced error battle back and forth. The team that was keeping the ball between the lines was the team that was ahead in the score. It wasn’t the team that was getting the fancy kills or the aces, it was the team keeping the ball between the lines that won that.”
Leading the Royals were Picconi with nine kills, Siera Jones with 14 digs and Ashlyn Stonebraker with 23 assists. Louisa Re and Mia Berger made 13 and 10 digs, respectively.
“I felt like like I needed to not think about it,” smiled Picconi of her six straight serve point wins in the fifth set. ”I felt like I just had to go in and go through the motion I know and just focus on the ball and not think about anything around me.”
The Vikings were paced by senior Mikiyah Ennals with 11 kills, Abby Derrickson with 18 assists and Emily Lamb with 12 digs.
“I think it was a little harder for some of the younger players to understand that when you get down it’s not the end of the world,” said senior Mikiyah Ennals. “Everybody makes mistakes.”
Ennals has taken the role of an emotional leader this season.
“As a senior I feel like I should be the one setting the tone and setting an example and pushing everyone to play their best, because I feel that comes with the title of senior,” she said.
“Tonight certainly stings, as I believe we did have the match within our grasp,” said Cape coach Tyler Coupe. “Delmarva Christian did a fantastic job executing their game plan of serving us out of system from the jump.
“As a staff, we know we’re going to grow throughout the season due to the youth of our team. There were certainly good moments of the match from our end that we’re going to focus on, but also room for a lot of improvement. Bre Kusen’s injury in the fourth set hurt us way more than expected. It was almost as if all the air in the gym was sucked out. We’re going to focus on Monday’s practice of continuing to fight through points and hopefully work on our mental toughness, being able to move on from a point no matter who made the great play or who made the error.”
Cape will travel to Seaford Tuesday, Sept. 11, while the Royals host Sussex Academy Thursday, Sept. 13.