DALEVILLE - Valorie Wells is no stranger to winning at Daleville High School. For two seasons, she was the head coach of the Broncos volleyball team, earning success and bringing two sectional titles to the school.
Tonight it happened once more as she left the court to her screaming players in the locker room. There was one key difference. Wells traded in the black and gold for a black and red when she became Wapahani’s head coach during the offseason. Tonight's 3-2 Middle-eastern Conference win over Daleville was her first time back in the familiar gym.
“It was special,” Wells said. “It was a good, fun fight for both sides. I just love those competitive types of games, but I’m glad that we pulled it out at the end of it.”
However, to earn that locker room celebration, the Raiders (13-6, 6-0 MEC) had to battle up until the final point. The first set became a precursor for the entire match as the Broncos squeaked out a 25-23 victory. In the second set, the Raiders showed their poise and took a commanding 25-6 set two win.
“I really feel like we thrive off of the tension that was built up between [the teams],” sophomore Sophia Beeson said. “Coming in here, I could feel it was tense. As soon as we walked in, there was a rivalry.”
Yet in set three, Wapahani fell to the Broncos (10-4, 4-2 MEC) 25-20 in a fashion that mirrored the opening set. Being one loss away from falling in the match, the Raiders needed someone to step up. That was Beeson. She stayed in the entire match and was all over the floor. She leads the team in kills on the season, which is probably no surprise to Raider fans after tonight’s showing.
When the Raiders were one point away from tying the match in set four, she was there once again, recording the final kill.
“She wanted the ball and she wanted to kill it,” Wells said. “I'm glad we were able to finish it.”
Continuing the energy from the dramatic set four win, the Raiders took set five 15-13, keeping their undefeated MEC record alive. To Wells, the Raiders defense is something that has been the biggest key to their success.
“I always say defense wins championships and offense sells tickets,” she said. “We all like to hit the ball but I definitely think defense is what's gonna keep us in the game.”
One year removed from winning the 1A State Championship at Worthen Arena, senior Lauren Rich is confident in her team’s chances.
“Heck yeah [we can go back],” she said, smiling. “I feel like we just have to trust each other. We have to continue what we're doing and just get better from this point.”
Wapahani will try to make it back-to-back wins when they face Winchester on Monday, October 2. The game will start at 6 p.m.
The Broncos will attempt to get back in the win column as they take on Shenandoah on Wednesday, September 20. The game will also start at 6 p.m.
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