In 2008, Delta played host Yorktown in the championship match of its volleyball invite. Those two teams wound up playing each other four times that season, and their coaches agreed to change the invite format the following year to cut down on their matchups.
Since then, the crossover matches have been predetermined so the host never plays Delta in the invitational. No one voiced any frustration with the change in format the past four invitations as Yorktown was unquestionably the superior team.
There was no such certainty Saturday, though, as the county rivals both posted impressive 4-0 records. The question of which was better was left unsettled, and players from both sides expressed some regret that they missed out on an opportunity to determine superiority on the court.
“I’d like to see how we played against each other because we’re both very good teams,” Delta senior middle blocker Marissa Elam said. “I’d just like to see who would come out on top in that.”
Said Yorktown senior right-side Nicole Phillips: “We know that they’re going to put up a really good game with us and they’re going to be a challenge, because they are a great team. We’re all ready to see them.”
Both teams cruised through their pool play matches, sweeping their three opponents. Yorktown disposed of three fellow 4A programs in Roncalli, No. 9 Center Grove and Indianapolis Bishop Chatard. Class 3A No. 3 Delta swept two 3A teams in No. 4 Bellmont and Fort Wayne Concordia and a 4A in Westfield.
Their paths to perfection finally hit some turbulence in their final matches.
Yorktown dropped the second set to Bellmont and trailed 10-8 in the third before rallying for a 25-13, 17-25, 17-15 victory.
“I think we were in some good pressure situations, and it’s nice to get to go through that early in the year,” Yorktown coach Stephanie Bloom said.
Phillips said the Tigers prep for those types of pressure situations in each practice. The senior fittingly put the ball down for the final Yorktown point against Bellmont. She paced the Tigers in kills with a total of 26 in the four matches.
The Eagles dealt with some pressure of their own in their final match, but not to the same extent as the Tigers. Chatard took the second set from Delta but never seriously challenged in the decisive third.
The Eagles, ignited by pinpoint serving by libero Teahan Dishman, put the Trojans in a 6-1 hole and cruised from there for a 25-14, 23-25, 15-5 victory.
“Boy, my kids really responded,” Zickgraf said.
The energetic Eagles celebrated each of their points in the third set as if a state championship was at stake.
“I just thought we put a lot of heart and soul in it,” Elam said. “We didn’t give up on balls, and we just put balls down when we needed to.”
Elam led the balanced Delta attack in kills with 24.
Setter Madison Bergren picked apart the Chatard defense by aggressively throwing into the open corners for eight kills. Bergren finished with a total of 19 kills and 88 assists in what Zickgraf described as one of her best performances at an invite.
Bergren celebrated as euphorically as anyone, screaming and high-fiving anyone in sight, after the Eagles finished the invite with a perfect 4-0 record for the first time since Zickgraf took over the program in 2008.
“It feels awesome,” Bergren said. “Marissa and I as seniors have never gone 4-0 before this tournament, and I think it’s a big confidence booster for us. We’re feeling good.”