Sussex Academy volleyball hoping for another successful season

Senior leadership, defense and chemistry key to Seahawks winning
August 24, 2023

Story Location:
21150 Airport Road
Georgetown, DE 19947
United States

Following a 2022 season that saw the Sussex Academy girls’ volleyball team defeat local rivals Sussex Central and Sussex Tech, the Lady Seahawks are hoping to secure back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in the program’s young history. Coming within one set of defeating Henlopen South champion Indian River, the girls are hoping to contend for a division title and make the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association State Tournament for the first time since 2017.

“We’re expecting to have a very competitive and good season both record-wise and in quality of play,” said Hailee Gooch, head coach. “The mindset these girls have is very determined.”

Following the graduation of seven seniors, the Lady Seahawks have nine letter winners returning from the 2022 squad that went 8-7. Gooch believes the scrappiness of their defense and the strength of their middle block will be the keys to success in 2023. 

Commanding the middle block will be seniors Danica Duncan and Carmen Merrick. Merrick believes some misfortune derailed the potential of last year’s team, but is optimistic about the 2023 squad.

“Last season got cut off pretty early due to some unfortunate injuries. I believe we could have gone further,” Merrick said, “I think this year we thought it’d be more of a rebuilding year, but it’s looking pretty good. I’m very excited!”

Merrick said the first few practices of preseason have boosted the team’s self-belief.

“Our defense is good, our communication is good, and our team chemistry is good. All the girls have known each other for a while and it’s a lot of seniors. We’re pretty solid.” Merrick said.

Seven of the nine varsity players returning in 2023 are seniors and members of a class that has seen the Lady Seahawks improve their record year by year since they were freshmen.

“We definitely lost some key players, but we also have a strong foundation, and I think it’ll be pretty tight again and it will be a good competition,” Merrick said, in reference to the Henlopen South title.

Although they were defeated by Indian River, Gooch and Merrick noted their center block had suffered a concussion midway through the match.

“I think this year it will be very close,” Gooch said when asked about the Henlopen South title race.

Regardless of the final outcome of matches and sets, this is a group of girls who enjoy the sport and competitiveness of volleyball.

“I love volleyball. It’s such a fast-paced game and it’s point by point because there’s so many points,” Merrick said. “If you make a mistake you can almost always make it up right away because while it’s a long match, it’s also a short game within that match.”

The Lady Seahawks’ first match of the year will be against Middletown at 5:15 p.m., Friday, Sept. 8, and the game will be shown on YouTube. The girls’ first home match is against local rival Sussex Central at 5:15 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 12.

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