Cape Henlopen tops Dover for school’s first volleyball state tournament victory

Cape Henlopen girls celebrate after scoring a point against Dover Thursday night. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

CAMDEN — The Cape Henlopen High volleyball program took a big leap forward on Thursday night.

The Vikings won a DIAA state tournament game for the first time in school history.

Sixteenth-seeded Cape Henlopen edged No. 17 Dover High 3-2 in a thrilling five-set contest to advance out of the first round at Caesar Rodney High. It was the second time this season Cape had beaten Dover in five sets.

Cape Henlpen had made the tournament five previous times, including the last three years, but could not find that first victory until Thursday.

Jessica Crawford of CR returns the ball past Carly Dillulio of St. Georges. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

“It’s a huge deal,” said Cape coach Tyler Coupe. “It definitely sets the tone the right way. This is my fourth year with the program and it is a vision I had for us to advance in a state tournament. I think it does change the culture of the sport down here, where it’s not just something you do in the fall to hang out, it’s something you do to be competitive.”

St. Georges, the No. 24 seed in the 24-team tournament, upset the host and No. 9 seed Caesar Rodney in the late game of the first round doubleheader.

St. Georges won the first set 25-18 before the Riders fought back and won the second 25-21. St. Georges won the next two sets for a 3-1 victory.

The Hawks will now face eight seed Conrad in the second round on Saturday at 6 p.m., hosted by Salesianum in Wilmington. Cape Henlopen meets top-seeded Padua in the second game of the doubleheader at Salesianum following the conclusion of the Conrad-St. Georges matchup.

Dionna Miller of Dover blocks a shot by Cape’s Jocelyn Leach.

The Riders wrapped up the season with a 12-4 overall record. Dover also ended the year at 12-4.

Set scores in the Cape win were 25-18, 13-25, 25-21, 16-25 and 15-7.

Cape Henlopen trailed 7-4 in the final set before Coupe called timeout. The Vikings then won every remaining point to finish the game on an 11-0 run.

“We work a lot on pressure situation in practice,” Coupe said. “I think that was a great example of that coming to fruition. We just said, ‘Keep your cool, play our game.’ We’re not a fast-paced, overpowering team. We’re a slow, purposeful team. I think those first seven points we lost we weren’t doing that. From then on we played a much more controlled match.”

Erin Morrissey paced Cape Henlopen with 13 kills, Mikiyah Ennals had eight while Rileigh Wilson and Kathryn Knarr each recorded six kills. Jocelyn Leach added five kills of her own.

Abigail Derrickson had 17 assists for the Vikings. Emily Lamb netted 27 digs on the night.

Cape Henlopen and Dover also played a five-setter on Oct. 18. The Vikings won that final set 16-14 and every set was decided by three or less points, so Coupe was expecting another close one on Thursday.

Dover was making its first appearance in the state tournament since 2006.

“They are insanely talented defensively,” Coupe said of the Senators. “And they have two big girls at the net who can put the ball away. I thought that was their bread and butter tonight. I’m not going to say we’re lucky but we were fortunate to come out with the win.”

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