Smyrna earns Henlopen Conference volleyball threepeat

BRIDGEVILLE — Representing the Northern Division, Smyrna High completed a Henlopen Conference three-peat Monday night with a 3-0 sweep of Indian River.

“We definitely knew it was going to be a tough game going into it. We faced them during the season and they took us to the fifth set,” said Smyrna head coach Daniel Wandless. “They’re a very good team – they went 14-1 during the regular season. We took nothing for granted, practiced very hard, looked at the film and our girls played very well offensively.”

Smyrna’s third consecutive conference title comes just three days ahead of the No. 9 seed’s first-round state tournament match-up against No. 24 Brandywine.

Indian River, the 2017 Henlopen Southern Division champions, will enjoy a first-round bye as the No. 7 seed in the state tournament.

“As a team we all played really well together tonight,” said Smyrna senior Reece Trabaudo. “We’ve been playing together for a very long time, so we connect well as a unit.”

In the match’s first set, Smyrna scored the first point and never relinquished the lead. The Eagles remained in control throughout the set on their way to a 25-16 win.

Smyrna got off to another quick start in the second set, but Indian River kept the score close before taking its first lead of the night, 19-18.

Wandless quickly called a timeout to calm his squad down, and then proceeded to go on a 7-2 run to complete the 25-21 second set victory and pull ahead 2-0 in the match.

Indian River continued to battle, but ultimately was unable to slow down Smyrna’s offense. A 25-20 third set victory clinched the Eagles’ third straight Henlopen title.

“We came in with the mindset of thinking we needed to show them that we’re the superior team and not go into five sets,” Trabaudo said. “So, we worked extra hard in practice and it paid off in the game.”

“I have to give Smyrna credit,” said IR head coach Jim Barnes. “I think they just out-served us, they out-defended us and we did not do enough in-system plays. We had a difficult time passing their serves, thus we would give the ball back to them. So, we just needed more in-system plays and they took us out by serving tough.”

“Good volleyball teams have to be willing to go back and forth with rallies,” said Wandless. “You have to be able to break momentum, and a lot of times tonight they gained several points on us with momentum and that put us in a hole. All in all, that’s true volleyball right there – back and forth and setting up an opportunity to make a really good strike to put the play away.”

Wandless and his Smyrna squad will look to carry this momentum over into the state tournament later this week.

In the program’s 13 years, Smyrna has never made it past the second round of the tournament. Wandless hopes to change things this season.

“We’ve faced a lot of upstate teams this year,” he said. “I think we’re used to that tempo and that flow, so we’re just going to give it our best.”

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