Sussex Academy volleyball honors decorated ’24 class

Two school records broken in Seahawks’ 3-0 win over Woodbridge
October 24, 2023

The Sussex Academy girls' volleyball team came into Senior Night against Woodbridge Oct. 23 ready to continue down a path of success and honor a senior class that has ushered in a new era of winning.

Winners of seven of the last nine matches and recently crowned Henlopen South champions, the girls needed to beat Woodbridge for a chance at their first double-digit win season since 2017.  

“This senior class, in terms of skill, has definitely set the bar and the standard for kids coming up,” said coach Hailee Gooch. “Their leadership, willingness to be vocal, being competitive, and having the drive that we needed to see across the board is awesome and filtering through the underclassmen.”

Seniors Carmen Merrick, Danica Duncan, Grace Fiorilla, Tayler Flaherty and Sarah Rowley were honored before the match. The group not only secured the first division title in program history, but also broke two individual school records. Merrick owns the single-season and career records for blocks, while Duncan is the leader in single-season and career kills.

“It was a lot of fun, and I had a lot of support,” Duncan said. “It was really exciting with everybody supporting me and cheering me on. I feel like I did a lot of work and it’s paid off. I’m proud of myself.”

From Fiorilla’s first serve of the match to the final whistle, Sussex Academy dominated Woodbridge. Remaining stout in serve-receive and aggressiveness at the net, the Seahawks nearly won all three sets by double digits – 25-16, 25-11, 25-10. Fiorilla set the table for Merrick, Duncan and Flaherty to attempt quality hits and collect quite a few kills. Service from the Seahawks was a strength, with aces piling up.

Sussex Academy improves to 9-5 and will face Early College at Delaware State University in Dover for the final match of the regular season. A victory would secure double-digit wins for the first time in six years.

“I loved coaching them. They all have a very competitive mindset, they want to work hard, they want to get better, and they genuinely push each other to be better,” Gooch said.

The Seahawks will attempt to grab another first, a Henlopen Conference championship, when they host Henlopen North champion Smyrna (12-1) Saturday, Oct. 28, in Georgetown. 

“We’re super stoked to have the opportunity to play Smyrna again on Saturday. They’re very challenging and tough. It’s exciting for our team to try and raise the bar to meet that level of play,” Gooch said.

Smyrna defeated Sussex Academy 3-0 Sept. 15. All five of the Seahawks’ losses this year have come against teams above a .750 win percentage.


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