NANTICOKE – Alyssa Kelly probably isn’t your average setter.
The Delaware Valley senior is a powerful hitter from the outside, an imposing figure in the middle and hovers around the 6-foot-2 mark. Don’t let her size fool you because she has great touch on the ball, lofting perfect set-up shots to teammate Taylor Braunnagle, another 6-foot athlete with tremendous pop on her swing.
Mix size with versatility, and you understand why the Warriors are one of the best in the Wyoming Valley Conference.
Braunnagle had 19 kills, while Kelly added 11 spikes and 12 assists as Delaware Valley swept Nanticoke Area, 3-0, in a battle of top teams in the league.
Game scores were 25-16, 25-10 and 25-14.
The Warriors rebounded after a tough three-set loss to conference power Holy Redeemer last week, while Nanticoke drops to 4-2 in the league.
“That was a tough loss to Redeemer, but we had to focus on our own mistakes and learn from them,” Braunnagle said. “We had to worry about fixing the errors because that hurt us in the Redeemer match.”
Height is a tough matchup for anyone. And Delaware Valley presents that problem with five girls near 6-foot or taller.
What makes the Warriors tough is that versatility.
Kelly, a strong hitter, has shown that uncanny ability to put the perfect spin on the ball for her hitters.
Braunnagle, an all-state talent, is equally as talented in the back row as she is at the net.
And that’s not counting steady libero Jess Balcarcel and setter Isabella Wood.
“That’s what makes them a talented team,” Nanticoke head coach Debbie Gavin said. “They use all that height perfectly. One of their tallest players is their setter, and they play every position. They are all good passers. Put it together, and you have a well-rounded team.”
Nanticoke, with a roster of just two seniors, never backed down from the challenge.
The Trojans had leads early in the first two sets, only to see Delaware Valley flex its experience.
A 6-0 run on Kelly’s serve in the first stanza gave the Warriors a seven-point (12-5) edge.
Braunnagle showed her dominance in the final two. She dropped eight of her game-high 19 kills in the second set, and had three aces in closing out the third stanza.
“We just have some tall, talented kids and we use them as much as we could. I would love to see them block more, though,” DV head coach Bridget Crawford said. “That Redeemer loss was a tough one for us, but we made some changes and we moved forward. Right now, it’s one game at a time. We have a tough one with Tunkhannock that we need to prepare for, and we have a challenging tournament coming up in the future.”
Lauren Rinehimer had seven assists and two kills for Nanticoke, while sophomore Abbey Zaykoski added four kills.
“They fight to the end, and play as a team to the last point,” Gavin said. “We weren’t afraid of them or we weren’t gun shy. Delaware Valley is a talented team, and it shows. We have five brand-new girls, and a new setter. We improve every single day. As long as we can win the games that we need to win, and can continue to improve each day, hopefully, we can start to peak when we hit the postseason.”
Delaware Valley 3, Nanticoke Area 0
DEL: Taylor Braunnagle 19 kills, 3 aces, 3 blocks; Alyssa Kelly 11 kills, 12 assists, 4 blocks, 1 ace; Isabella Wood 21 assists, 1 ace.
NAN: Lauren Rinehimer 7 assists, 2 kills; Abbey Zaykoski 4 kills.
H.S. GIRLS VOLLEYBALL
North Pocono 3, Hanover 0
Melissa Lees served up three aces and finished with 22 service points in the Trojans’ 25-10, 25-10, 25-13 sweep.
Shalianna Rios led the visiting Hawkeyes with 15 digs.
Holy Redeemer 3, GAR 0
Nicole Slavaski recorded 10 kills, 10 service points and two assists to lead Holy Redeemer to a straight-set victory over GAR.
Lauren Slavaski added three kills, nine service points and two digs, while Kellan Katra chipped in 13 service points and two aces.
Banessa Flores recorded five assists for GAR in the loss.
North Pocono 3, Hanover Area 0
HAN: Shalianna Rios 15 digs; Olivia Fedor 3 kills, 1 block; Raeann Walton 2 digs, 4 assists
NP: Melissa Lees 22 service points, 3 aces; Katie McNulty 12 service points, 1 ace
Holy Redeemer 3, GAR 0
HR: Nicole Slavaski 10 kills, 10 service points, 2 assists; Lauren Slavaski 3 kills, 9 service points, 2 digs; Kellan Katra 13 service points, 2 aces.
GAR: Banessa Flores 5 assists, 1 ace; Marie Skrepnak 3 kills, 1 block; Kariana Goicochea 6 digs.