Herald Photo / Dean Hockney
NEW CHAPTER  — Eastern High School Senior Delaney Sandlin signs to play NCAA Division III volleyball at Earlham College.
Herald Photo / Dean Hockney NEW CHAPTER — Eastern High School Senior Delaney Sandlin signs to play NCAA Division III volleyball at Earlham College.
The Eastern Comet volleyball squad showed vast improvement last year, and part of the success is credited to senior Delaney Sandlin. 

The libero’s hard work paid off after she signed to play collegiately in Richmond at Earlham College, an NCAA Division III program. Sandlin said she was thrilled to be able to combine college volleyball with a strong academic program.

“I have younger siblings, so I wanted to be close to home; it was just close enough to home but just far enough away,” said Sandlin. “The Earlham program is rebuilding, so that will be fun. And they have an amazing psychology program. They offer so many classes with so much diversity. It is all in one spot.”

The 5-foot-3 Sandlin was a top performer for the Comets for the past three campaigns. Last fall, she helped the squad improve to 16-14 after winning only six contests (6-24) her junior year and 11 during her sophomore season (11-13). Eastern finished a respectable 6-2 in Hoosier Heartland Conference action this year. 

Despite the improved play, she looks back to her junior season for one of her favorite moments.

“Beating Western last year,” she recalled of the 19-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 16-14 come-from-behind victory. “Western is our rival, and it was a back-and-forth game. We had so much fun on the bus ride home.” 

On the court, she led the Comets with 358 digs and 373 serve receptions, while also tallying 27 service aces. In three seasons, she finished with 982 serve receptions, 846 digs, and 67 aces. Sandlin said her floor vision is one of her strong points.

“I am a very good at seeing the floor and communicating,” said the Comets captain. “I see some things others don’t, and I can communicate that to the team.”

Eastern head coach Missy Mavrick said she will miss her three-year floor leader.

“She has been a staple in the back row,” said Mavrick. “Her dedication to the game set a great example for the other girls. One thing I will miss is I could count on her getting that pass when we needed it. Her volleyball IQ really helped her.”

Mavrick said Sandlin’s signing will serve as an inspiration for other players in the program.

“We are very limited on the number of girls that come out of the program and play in college,” said the coach. “It is exciting for the younger girls. Even the current girls can see that if they put the work in they can have the same success and a future past high school.”

For Sandlin, volleyball has been a lifetime love affair.

“I started playing when I was 8 with Jason Watson at the YMCA,” said Sandlin, who is also a member of SADD and Special Olympics in Muncie. “I started playing club at Munciana, and I just love it. You have a volleyball family and a family at home.”

Earlham, a member of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, finished 6-24 a year ago and 0-9 in loop play.

“I think she is going to be a huge help and will help their program out,” said Mavrick. “Passing is a staple of the game, and she will allow them to advance their game.”