Archmere reached the state championship match last season, and there’s no reason why the Auks cannot get there — and win — in 2019. Four girls graduated after last year, but coach Mary Pat Kwoka has plenty of firepower returning.
The imposing front line includes first-team all-state selection Julia Kochie, who is one of the state’s most feared hitters. She is joined by Hope Merritt, Abby Kates and Lauren Edmiston. Those four all are seniors.
Defensively, the back line is patrolled primarily by libero Hannah Wright and defensive specialist Bella Ganfield, with Mackenzie Popp adding all over the court. The Auks also have some talent moving up from junior varsity, and two freshmen is on the roster.
Popp said the loss in the final to Wilmington Charter was “not the ending we wanted,” but the players have not dwelled on one match.
“I think our mindset’s always the next game, the next opponent,” she said. “Right now, we just look at what’s ahead and hope for the best.”
Kochie said a state title is always the goal. “We just come out with positive energy and good attitudes on the court, and just work out hardest.”
The Auks play in the state’s deepest conference, the Diamond State Athletic Conference, which could send as many as six teams to the 24-team state tournament. There are no nights off in that conference.
“There’s a bunch of good teams. It’s definitely difficult, but great matchups, fun games. Really intense and good energy. I love it,” Kochie said.
They’ll also have to deal with Friends, Delmarva Christian and Padua at home, and Smyrna, Saint Mark’s, Tower Hill and Ursuline on the road.
“Our schedule’s pretty intense,” Popp said, “and it’s always back-to-back big games. We love the energy, and our student support is amazing. It helps us keep pushing and keep working our hardest at practice.”
Popp and Kochie both said playing in a crowded Moglia Fieldhouse provides one of the best home-court advantages in Delaware.
“It’s such a good time. You’ve gotta be there. It’s such an experience,” Popp said.
A full house “makes it fun for us,” Kochie added. “Before the game, everybody’s like, ‘Big game tonight?’ We’re like, ‘Yeah, come on out!’”
Home matches in CAPS
Sept. 10, 6:15 p.m.: ST. ELIZABETH
Sept. 12, 5 p.m.: MOT Charter
Sept. 19, 6:15 p.m.: FRIENDS
Sept. 21, 11:30 a.m.: RED LION
Sept. 24, 7:15 p.m.: Saint Mark’s
Sept. 26, 6:15 p.m.: Newark Charter
Oct. 2, 5:15 p.m.: Tower Hill
Oct. 4, 6:15 p.m.: DELAWARE MILITARY
Oct. 7, 5 p.m.: First State Military
Oct. 9, 6:15 p.m.: DELMARVA CHRISTIAN
Oct. 15, 6:15 p.m.: CONRAD
Oct. 18, 6:15 p.m.: PADUA
Oct. 22, 7:15 p.m.: Ursuline
Oct. 25, 6:15 p.m.: WILMINGTON CHARTER