MAGNOLIA — A new season has brought a new look to St. Thomas More Academy. Perhaps the biggest change for the Ravens is that they are now an independent after leaving the Diamond State Athletic Conference.
Playing in the DSAC meant several trips each season to schools north of the canal, including powers like Archmere and DMA. This season, the opener at St. Elizabeth is St. Thomas More’s only venture into New Castle County.
The schedule is heavy with Henlopen Conference opponents, including neighboring Caesar Rodney, which has the Ravens excited.
“I think that we’re going to be able to compete a little bit better,” fifth-year coach Julie Murphy said. “We are going to face a different group of teams, and some of them I’m not real sure about. So it will be fun, it will be exciting. And we get to play (Caesar Rodney) for the first time in a number of years. I’m super excited about that. They’re always a good, competitive team.”
Junior Sarah Pool is the team’s primary outside hitter and is beginning her third varsity season. She also has circled the Oct. 15 match at Cape Henlopen.
“I play club with a lot of the girls on the Cape team, so it will be a friendly competition,” she said.
In addition to Pool, Ravens fans should look out for the lone returning senior, middle hitter and blocker Kourtnie Orth, and junior setter Gillian Crawford, according to Murphy. Crawford could line up just about anywhere on the court and effectively coach the players on the court.
“She has a high volleyball IQ. I rely on her to set things up on the court when I can’t from the bench,” Murphy said.
In addition, there are four freshmen on the nine-person roster, three of whom are year-round players.
Murphy believes her charges could win 10 or 11 matches this season and return to the state tournament.
“We’re going to be nice and solid,” she said.
St. Thomas More does not kick off the season until Sept. 17, giving them one of the latest starting date in the state. Pool said although the team is eager to start, there is an advantage to having a few extra days of practice.
“If I stay positive about the future, then the younger players will,” she said. “So in practice I try as hard as I can to influence them. So the more practice, the better.”
Thursday, Sept. 17: at St. Elizabeth, 6:45 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 18: Milford, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 19: Sussex Academy, noon
Monday, Sept. 21: at Sussex Central, 5:15 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 24: at Dover, 5 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 25: St. Andrews, 5:15 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 28: Aquinas, 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 30: Salisbury Christian (Md.), 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 6: at Caesar Rodney, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 8: at Woodbridge, 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 15: at Cape Henlopen, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 17: Delmarva Christian, 12:30 p.m. (Homecoming)
Wednesday, Oct. 21: Dover, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 24: at Sussex Tech, noon