Cape Henlopen edges Dover, stays alive in North volleyball race

Cape Henlopen celebrates a point against Dover.

LEWES – It was a turning point for Cape Henlopen High.

Down by one set, and trailing 20-16 in the second set, the Vikings battled back by scoring nine of the next 14 points to tie the score, 25-25.

Needing to win by two, the Vikings went on to win the back-and-forth marathon set by a score of 30-28.

It was all the proof and confidence the girls needed to know they could pull off a victory.

Three sets later, Cape pulled away with the 3-2 volleyball victory over Henlopen North foe Dover High in front of the home crowd Tuesday night.

“Dover plays a very unique game, they’re up tempo and they force us out of system a lot and that’s something we haven’t seen before in terms of how they run it,” said Cape coach Tyler Coupe. “So, I think we responded well. At times we got out of sorts and we didn’t trust ourselves, but when we were in our own rhythm and our own system schematically, we were able to capitalize.”

Cape played from behind – one set to zero and again at two sets to one – for much of the match, but persevered and battled back each time.

The Vikings captured the last two sets, each by five or fewer points, to complete the comeback.

“I kind of felt like, ‘you know, we’ve gone this far, we’ve managed to come back and we continue to battle point after point. There’s nothing we can’t do in this game that’s going to keep us from winning,’” said senior Abigail Derrickson.

The 18-25, 30-28, 24-26, 25-20, 16-14 victory improves the Vikings to 9-5 overall and 6-1 in the North heading into Friday’s nonconference season finale against Conrad School. Tipoff is set for 5:15 p.m.

“I think it says that even when we’re down, we don’t give up,” said senior Simran Patel. “We all trust each other a lot and we’re willing to put it all on the line to win a game.”

The loss caps Dover’s regular season at 11-4 overall and 5-2 in the North. It matches the Senators’ win total from a season ago.

A Smyrna High (9-5, 5-1 North) loss to Sussex Tech High (7-7 overall, 1-5 North) on Thursday would give the Vikings the North crown and a spot in the Henlopen Conference title game.

If Smyrna pulls off the North win over Tech, it would give the Eagles a chance to face Indian River High in Saturday’s conference title game.

“It’s fun to see our conference and how far we’ve come as a group, to have as much competitiveness and parity in the north division as we have this year,” said Coupe. “I think it’s a great sign for where we are and where we’re going to go and I think our conference, and our division, is set for success in the state tournament.”

Derrickson, fresh off reaching her 100th career ace in Cape’s 3-1 win over Polytech High on Oct. 17, registered a team-high 32 assists along with nine digs and three aces in the win.

Patel recorded seven kills, two aces, two blocks and four digs.

Junior Emily Lamb finished with a team-high 16 digs while sophomore Rileigh Wilson registered a team-high 17 kills.

The first half of set one featured six ties before Dover finally started to pull away for the 25-18 win. The seven-point deficit was the largest of any set on the night.

Dover appeared to be cruising to a second set victory to take the 2-0 advantage, needing just five points to solidify the set before Cape stormed back.

The set, which ended with a two-point Cape win to tie the match up 1-1, featured six lead changes.

Dover regained control with a 26-24 victory in set three, but Cape once again responded with its largest margin of the night in set four.

The 25-20 win for Cape in the fourth set knotted the overall match back up, 2-2, to force a fifth and final set.

Cape commanded the floor early in the set, jumping ahead by a 6-1 margin before Dover bounced back to tie the score at 8-8, 11-11 and 12-12. The Senators even jumped ahead 14-12, to force Cape into two consecutive match point situations.

Cape scored the final four points to seal the victory.

“This is probably the best feeling I’ve had all season,” said Patel. “It’s definitely our greatest win – not our best game, but our greatest win for sure. I’m really glad we pulled through.”

“It’s fun to see our conference and how far we’ve come as a group, to have as much competitiveness and parity we

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at

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