Cassie Kowalski of Delaware Military Academy
(Photo by Luigi Ciuffetelli)
Whether you are a volleyball fan or not, it was hard not to get swept up in the excitement of Delaware Military Academy’s undefeated season, which led to the school’s first state title. It was only fitting that DMA defeated Archmere Academy, since Archmere prevented DMA from reaching the title match the previous season. A member of the varsity team since she was a freshman, senior captain Cassie Kowalski, 18, saw the team make its first playoff in 2011. She spoke with us about the pressure they felt going into the title contest and more.
DT: How long have you been playing volleyball and what position do you play?
CK: I have been playing since fourth grade, and my position is opposite hitter.
DT: What got you interested in the sport?
CK: Just seeing and being around it. My cousins and the kids from the neighborhood played and hung around St. Matthew’s gym on Maryland Avenue.
DT: The team captured the school’s first state title in any sport. What was the pressure like going into the state title match?
CK: There were a lot of people rooting for us. People were saying that we were going to win, but what mattered was how we played. We knew they [Archmere] weren’t going to give us an easy game.
DT: Archmere prevented you from going to the state title last season. Were you coming back this year with payback in mind?
CK: In the back of our heads yes, but we weren’t using that as motivation. Archmere is a good program, and we always like to defeat them. However, payback was not our main focus. It was winning the state championship.
DT: During the title match, Archmere won the first game. Did that shake your confidence?
CK: During the first game everyone was scrambling, and we were worried about the fans. But our confidence was not shaken. We played a very difficult regular season schedule to help prepare for situations just like that. We had come back from being down before to defeat some very good teams. Our coach also remained confident in us, and that helped us in the comeback.
DT: Though your team went undefeated during the season, do you think you were still underestimated?
CK: No, not at all. We were ranked No. 1, and everyone was gunning for us. There was a lot of hype surrounding this team, and I am just happy we were able to live up to it.
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DT: How do you prepare for a match?
CK: I don’t like to get too hyped up until the match starts. I like to stay loose and relaxed prior to the game. The parents put together a team dinner, and everyone likes to eat a lot of cookies before a game. Our team is very close-knit, so we typically have a meal together and just hang out prior to games.
DT: Does the team have any rituals?
CK: Since we are all friends outside of volleyball, we just like to hang out together. I think this is one of the main reasons we work so well together on the court.
DT: What are your plans for the fall?
CK: I am hoping to go to Washington College in Chestertown, Md., to study biology and play volleyball.
DT: Since winning the state title, what has the reaction been from other DMA students and the community?
CK: People seem to be as excited as we are. The whole school is excited. People come up and congratulate me, whether I am at the park or out to breakfast.