The Smyrna High School girls volleyball team will return to the DIAA State Tournament this weekend with a first round match against No. 8 seed Polytech.
Smyrna is the No. 9 seed. The match is Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Polytech High School.
Panthers were 14-2 in the regular season.
The Lady Eagles finished the regular season with a 12-3 record, winning nine matches in a row. Smyrna hasn't lost since dropping their match to Polytech 3-2 on Sept. 26.
Head coach Danny Wandless said he's excited for the team to be returning for the state tournament; this is the fourth time the Eagles have qualified for the tournament.
"It's a goal of ours each year," Wandless said. "I tell the girls it's something special. It separates yourself from the rest of the teams in the state. Only 16 teams make the state tournament."
He said the team is excited to be playing conference-rival Polytech in the first round. Wandless said the match will be interesting especially since the two teams battled it out in five games when Smyrna lost to Polytech earlier this season.
Wandless said the team has been preparing hard at practice this week and are working on their passing.
"We need to take as many reps in practice as we can," he said. "They need to play with confidence."
Senior Morgan Popovich said she's really excited to be returning to the state tournament. The tournament bid really drives home the fact that the team has been working hard. She said the players need to make sure they have the fundamentals down 100 percent.
Senior Raven Luckett is also happy and excited to be in the state tournament this year.
"This year we have a really talented team and I think we have the talent to make it all the way," Luckett said. "I'm excited to see what we can do."
For Luckett, the match against Polytech on Saturday will be about redemption. To win, she said the team needs to cover well, pass well and work together as a team.
Senior Mackenzie Thompson is playing in the state tournament for the first time and she's excited. She likes knowing that she'll be playing with a group of girls who are there for each other and won't give up in a match.
Senior Hannah Boyles said she feels accomplished to have helped the team make the state tournament.
"This is something bigger than ourselves. The whole program worked together to get us to the state tournament," Boyles said. "It feels amazing to make them proud and show the coaches their hard work has paid off."
Page 2 of 2 - As for Boyles, her mentality going into the Polytech match is that the match is no different than any other match. She thinks if the team covers well, passes well, talks and trusts each other on the court they'll be successful.
"I'm trying to treat it like it's not a big deal," she said. "It definitely is a big deal but I'm trying not to treat it like it is otherwise you'll psych yourself out. We need to have fun, play with heart and do the best we can."
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.