Charter knocks off No. 8 CR in volleyball tournament

Caesar Rodney’s Alexandra Mardesich hits over a Wilmington Charter player during Saturday’s volleyball state tournament game at CR. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

CAMDEN — Wilmington Charter may be the No. 24 seed in this tournament.

But the talented Force are hardly a Cinderella story.

For the second-straight match, Charter swept a higher-seeded Henlopen North team, this time knocking off eighth-seeded Caesar Rodney, 3-0, in the second round of the DIAA volleyball state tournament on Saturday afternoon.

Perhaps the only real surprise, though, is that the DIAA points system awarded the Force (7-7) just the last spot in the 24-team field.

Taller and deeper Charter never trailed at any point in the match before registering a 25-19, 25-16, 25-15 victory.

“They always get the ball back over,” first-year CR coach Nicole Johnson said about the Force. “They played really good defense and their hitters hit the seams, which we struggled with today.

Caesar Rodney players celebrate a winning point against Wilmington Charter.

“They made me proud a couple times,” Johnson said about her players. “But it was definitely not our best game. They know that. That’s not the way they wanted to end the season. But Charter earned that win — they definitely earned it. They were the better team today.”

“We knew this was going to be our last game in the gym for our seniors,” said Riders’ senior Geena Edmanson. “We just had to push through and know that every point counts. We just had to keep playing until the whistle blows.

Caesar Rodney’s Sydne Jenkins hits the ball against Wilmington Charter.

“We did play them last year and I knew that they were going to be a good team. They put up a good fight and I feel like we did, too.”

The Force, which toppled No. 9 Dover in Thursday’s first round, advances to Tuesday’s quarterfinals where it will take on top-seeded St. Mark’s (12-0).

Charter took control from the start of the match, opening up leads of 6-0 and 14-2 in the first set. The Riders, who finish the season 8-4, did whittle the Force’s advantage down to 23-19 in the first set before falling.

In the second set, CR used a 6-0 run with Makenna Diem serving to slice Charter’s advantage to 14-12. But the Force answered with a 9-0 run to pull away.

Finally, in the third set, the Riders were within 13-10 only to have the Force reel off 10 of the next 12 points.

CR has only three seniors on this year’s roster — Edmanson, Sydne Johnson and Elizabeth Yocher. Nicole Johnson hopes her players can grow from this experience.

Caesar Rodney’s serves Cassidy Jester serves against Wilmington Charter.

“I think they’ll learn from this,” she said. “Hopefully, next year, they won’t come in playing nervous. I felt that they were nervous today.’

“I’m very proud,” Edmanson said about the Riders’ season. “I feel like we could have done better with a stronger start. But, due to COVID, we didn’t get to do our normal routine.

“I’m always happy to play with these girls. They mean a lot to me. I know we have a lot of talent still on the team. I’m so happy that they’re going to have mostly the same team. I’m going to miss them, though.”