The Panthers were 16-9 last season with an 8-1 record in the 3A WSL. Delta finished second to Coal Ridge in the league race and went on to play two Class 3A Region 8 matches before ending their season.
Thirty athletes are listed on three rosters for the Panthers in 2018. The largest number of players out this season is represented by 13 freshmen. There are three seniors, seven juniors and seven sophomores in the top three grades.
Head coach Beth Nelson is looking for another successful campaign and selected seniors Lauren Davey (MH) and Abby Carlson (S) as keys to the coming season. Juniors Sara Geddes (OH) and Madison Gieck (OH) were also noted as two top players who will lead other talented classmates when play begins.
Nelson will rely on returning staff members to work with all three levels this season. Those valuable coaches are Jessica Carlson, Holly Crowder and Lisa Crowder.
Nelson does not worry about teams to beat in the 3A WSL. The Panthers are "working hard towards a league title ... so we'll focus on one game at a time."
This year's outlook is good for the Panthers. Nelson knows the road to success is built upon belief in one another and respect for everyone involved in preparation for the season. "We are young and energetic this season. We are working on our fundamentals improving every practice. I am confident that all three levels will be competitive and our varsity hopes to return to state again."
Montrose 3, Delta 0
Delta was at Montrose Aug. 23 with a much anticipated match between the two rival teams.
All the preparation and waiting was for naught for Delta's Panthers' opening night on the volleyball court in Montrose. In an earlier preseason scrimmage session in Montrose coach Nelson noted some ups and downs in her team's performance. "We had moments when we were doing things right and struggled at other times."
Last Thursday's opening night for both teams was anything but what Nelson had hoped for as the Panthers were stopped 3-0 by Montrose.
Delta fell behind early in both the first and second sets of the match and trailed two sets to none going to the third set. The Panthers seemed to be confused in several situations as the younger players, and seasoned returners, worked to correct mistakes brought about by inexperience amongst newly-formed team chemistry.
The Panthers put together a solid third set where they sustained a strong offensive effort and were leading for most of the set before dropping a 26-24 decision to the Indians.
There were numerous errors on kill attempts by the Panthers in the match. Senior Lauren Davey had the most kills for Delta with six followed by junior Madi Gieck (4), freshman Erika Kuta (3) and junior Sara Geddes (2).
The Panthers recorded just four blocks in the match with 24 digs for the contest.
Senior Abby Carlson finished with 14 assists and Gieck had 20 service receptions for the match in Montrose.