For the Delmar girls volleyball team, the 2014 season has been one for the books.
Not only did they finish 12-4 and head to the Henlopen Conference Championship game for the second straight year, but the Wildcats have also accomplished other firsts for their program.
After starting off their conference season with back-to-back losses against Polytech and Smyrna, the Wildcats stepped it up in the next game against Sussex Tech, leading to a five-game winning streak.
Head coach Sandy Covington said the players’ experience is what kickstarted the season.
“We have a lot of returning players from last season, so this year everyone is comfortable and able to work well together on the court,” she said.
That streak was broken when Delmar lost to Cape Henlopen. The back-and-forth play continued as the Wildcats shutout Lake Forest in their next match, but lost once again when they were shutout by Smyrna.
But that loss would not be the last time they would face the Eagles
The next four conference games were all easy wins for Delmar, and their 10-4 record was enough to send them into the Henlopen Conference Championship away at Dover.
Nerves were high as the team saw a familiar face in Smyrna, who had just beat them five games previous.
But things all changed for the Wildcats.
This match, it was Delmar that would come out on top, winning the match 3-1.
“It was a total team effort,” Covington said.
For Covington and the team, this was no ordinary win.
It was the first time in program history that Delmar has won the Henlopen Conference Championship.
“Our biggest strength is our defense, especially Ashton Riddle a senior captain who is our libero and defensive specialist,” Covington said. “Her consistent passing and great digs keeps the game alive.”
Covington also mentioned outside hitter Carly Covington, who like Riddle, kept things going for Delmar this season.
“Carly is our outside hitter, who plays smart and strong,” Sandy Covington said. “Riddle keeps the ball in play and Covington gets the points.”
By winning the Conference Championship, the Wildcats have received an automatic spot in the State Tournament, another first for Delmar.
The Wildcats will face Charter School in Wilmington at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Charter is currently undefeated with a record of 15-0 and a No. 2 seed in the first round of states.
“We have a lot of returning players this season with a lot of experience,” Covington said. “It’s just a matter of working hard and sticking together to get the win.”
Delmar’s fans travel well, and Covington is hoping to get a big support group to head to Wilmington on Saturday to give the group of five seniors — Shelby Murphy, Rachel Davis, Alison Pusey, Ashton Riddle and Jessica Elliott — one final sendoff.
“There is a lot of support for the team from Delmar, and we are hoping that support follows us for this big game,” Covington said.