That’s the mentality of Wapahani coach Jared Richardson as two volleyball teams that have spent virtually the entire season ranked in the top five of the Class 2A state poll will meet in a sectional opener.
The Wes-Del Warriors and Wapahani Raiders will square off in the Burris Sectional quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21, highlighting the state tournament draw held Monday morning in Indianapolis. Wes-Del (21-6) is ranked first in the most recent coaches’ poll and media poll, while Wapahani (18-11) is sixth in the coaches’ poll and fifth in the media poll.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Richardson said. “Someone asked me how I would want it to play out. I’d rather just get it in right out of the gate, get it over with. I know they’ve been improving as the season has gone on, and so have we.
“It’s going to be an interesting matchup. It’s Delaware County volleyball, so anything can happen.”
The Raiders dominated at the net in the teams’ lone meeting this season, earning a 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-16) win over the Warriors on Aug. 28 in Selma. Wes-Del, the defending 1A state champion, moved up to 2A this season due to the tournament success factor, while Wapahani moved down from 3A to 2A.
The Warriors, led by Eastern-Michigan bound Alysa Sutton, have been playing the last month without starter Perrie Smalley after she broke her wrist. The Raiders, meanwhile, have played the 10th toughest schedule in the state according to IndianaPrepVolleyball.com, all while overcoming injuries like to star middle hitter Skyler VanNote. Each has kept on eye on the other throughout the season, knowing this matchup would likely happen eventually.
“Mr. (Biff) Wilson (Wes-Del coach), he’s scouted us six to eight times this season, doing everything he can to come after us,” Richardson said. “When I saw him at our game against Muncie Central, I said, ‘At some point, haven’t you seen it all? He said, ‘Hey, I haven’t seen Muncie Central in two years. But that’s not why I’m here.'”
Also in the Burris Sectional, the host Owls (13-19) will open with Frankton (10-19) in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. on Oct. 21. The Monroe Central Golden Bears, who have broken through this season to go 23-6, received a bye into the semifinals and will meet either Sheridan (0-16) or Lapel (17-10) at 6 p.m. on Oct. 22.
In 3A, the top-ranked Yorktown Tigers (29-1) and the fourth-ranked Delta Eagles (22-9) could meet in the Delta Sectional semifinals if each wins their sectional opener. Yorktown drew the Blackford Bruins (0-24) at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 22, while Delta will face Hamilton Heights (14-10) at 6. The Tigers and Eagles have met twice in the last 10 days, with Yorktown sweeping both matches, including the Delaware County Volleyball Tournament final.
Central (26-4), ranked seventh in the 4A media poll and eighth in the coaches’ poll, is one of the hottest teams in the state and drew Homestead (13-10) in the Fort Wayne South Side Sectional quarterfinals. The Bearcats have not played the Spartans this season. The teams will meet at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 22, with the winner advancing to play either Fort Wayne South Side (0-15) or Huntington North (25-7) at 12:30 pm. on Oct. 24.
Also in that sectional, the Jay County Patriots (24-3) meet Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran (25-4) on at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20, with the winner facing Fort Wayne Wayne (7-15) in the semifinals at 11 a.m. Oct. 24. The title match is later that evening at 7.
In 1A, the No. 10 Daleville Broncos (16-10) will face either Anderson Prep Academy (2-13) or Southern Wells (6-23) in the Cowan Sectional semifinals at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 24. The host Blackhawks (7-17) will meet Liberty Christian (8-15) in the first semifinal at 11 a.m. The final is the same day at 7 p.m.
The New Castle Trojans (18-15) will meet Richmond (20-11) in the New Castle Sectional quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 22. The winner advances to to play either Greenfield-Central (18-10) or Pendleton Heights (8-15) at 11 a.m. on Oct. 24.
Blue River (11-20) plays Tri (10-16) in the Randolph Southern Sectional quarterfinals. Also in that sectional, Union (12-13) plays Union City (2-20) in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 24.
Also in 2A, Winchester (8-15) plays Union County (15-8) in the Winchester Sectional quarterfinals at 6 p.m. on Oct. 22.
Contact sports features writer Ryan O’Gara at (765) 213-5829. Follow him on Twitter @RyanOGaraTSP.