Volleyball team off to conference tournament
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 20:11
After beginning their season by losing 10 of their first 13 games, the Hens’ volleyball team turned it around and won 12 of their final 14 matches. The Hens finished the season with a 15-13 overall record and a 9-3 record in the conference.
Delaware defeated UNC Wilmington, 3-0, in the final regular season match of the year Saturday night at the Bob Carpenter Sports Center. Saturday’s win gave Delaware sole possession of second place in the CAA and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The Hens honored three seniors before Saturday’s match. Outside hitter Alissa Alker, middle hitter Chelsea Lawrence and outside hitter Logan Sebastian played in their final regular-season match for the Hens.
Delaware won the opening set 25-19 and continued its strong play in the rest of the sets. The Hens took the second set 25-17 and final set 25-20. The win was the Delaware’s third straight and the second 3-0 victory in a row after the Hens beat William & Mary on Friday.
Head coach Bonnie Kenny said she was proud of the team. Senior Night is always an emotional match for the Hens and especially the three seniors who have played a major role in the program, she said.
“We played probably too tough of a preseason schedule for a team that needed to get in the gym and play at this level a little more, but it was the only time of the year that we could get that experience,” Kenny said.
Lawrence recorded an attack percentage of .200 with five kills, five blocks and two aces in the match. Alker added six kills and 10 digs. Sebastian had one kill for an attack percentage of 1.000. Junior outside hitter Katie Hank had an attack percentage of .333 and led the team with 12 kills.
Despite strong performances by the upperclassmen Saturday, it was the freshmen that shined. Freshman setter Mackenzie Olsen had 30 assists, seven digs and a kill percentage of .250 in the match. Libero Ariel Shonk had a team-high 17 digs and added four assists. Utility player Katie Hillman had an attack percentage of .276 and recorded two digs and one block.
“I think that this team is really strong and we have gotten a lot better even though we have five freshmen on the floor,” Lawrence said. “They have all grown so much.”
Sebastian, who tore her ACL last season, which forced her to sit out for the majority of the year, said she was just happy to be on the court with her teammates. After over six months of rehab and countless hours in the training room Sebastian has become a key contributor for the Hens. Kenny said her hard work, especially during practice, has helped improve the team everyday.
After the match Lawrence reflected on her past four years at Delaware and her experiences as a member of the volleyball team. She said her favorite memory was hosting and winning the CAA Tournament the past two years. Kenny said she has enjoyed watching all three seniors grow during their time at Delaware, especially Lawrence.
“I don’t know if I have ever had a person grow as much as Chelsea, as a person,” Kenny said.
“That’s what I care about more than anything and she has turned into a leader.”
Alker is the active leader in matches played, kills, digs and blocks. She is sixth in Delaware history with 1,291 kills. Kenny commended Alker for her ability to contribute to the team for all four years and for stepping in as a member of a six-person rotation.
The Hens will travel to Towson on Saturday for the CAA Tournament where they will play the winner of James Madison and Northeastern. Delaware is the two-time defending CAA Champion with aspirations to advance to the NCAA Tournament, Lawrence said.
“We are expecting to win the next two matches that we have next weekend and go all the way to the Sweet 16,” Lawrence said.
Kenny said she was confident the team would be OK if they could get through the tough preseason and play well in conference games, which is exactly what they did. As they shift their focus to their next opponent Kenny said her message remains the same—”take it one game at a time.”
“This time of the year it is survive and advance and we clinched a bye which is a good thing,” Kenny said. “Hopefully we are in a position to get a little rest and survive and advance next week.”