WILMINGTON – Padua’s volleyball team opened its quest for the 2017 state championship with a bang, steamrolling Delaware Military Academy, 25-12, in a first set that included a 12-1 run. But the 16th-seeded Seahawks made sure everyone in a packed gymnasium at Salesianum that they belonged in the second round, storming back to tie the match after two sets.
The final two sets, however, belonged to the No. 1 Pandas, who advanced to the quarterfinal round with a 3-1 win. Set scores were 25-12, 23-25, 25-18, and 25-12. Padua was not surprised at the effort from DMA, a team the Pandas swept during the regular season.
“We expected it,” senior hitter Emily Jarome said. “They’re going to bring their A game, especially in the tournament. Everyone takes their game up a level, so we knew to expect a good game.”
After Bryanna Garvey brought DMA within two at 10-8 with a push kill in the third, the Pandas finally started to get some separation. Senior hitter Emily Jarome punctuated a 4-1 run with a smash down the left side that made the score 14-9. Later in the set, Padua got a kill from Emma Lucey, followed by a Lucey ace to extend the advantage to 22-16.
Jacqueline Shields scored for the Seahawks on a cross-court winner, but Michelle Kozicki stepped up for the Pandas. She scored on a kill, then followed a Padua error with a big block up front. An unforced DMA error gave the Pandas the win.
Padua started strong in the final set, leaving no doubt about the outcome. Jarome started a five-point run with a convincing smash, then added another on a tip. The run concluded with a Taylor Mueller ace and an over-the-head winner from Mackenzie Sobczyk. Jarome later added a block, crushed one through the Seahawks’ wall, and she went straight down with a kill.
Jarome rotated into the service position with Padua holding a 22-12 lead and promptly went to work. She served up an ace, and after a Seahawks scoring attempt went wide to send it to match point, she finished the action with another ace.
“That last ace was not the right spot that I was given,” she admitted, but it worked out.
DMA played evenly with the Pandas in the first set and trailed by just two, 11-9, after Kendal Murphy won a battle at the net. But a tip kill by Claire Bisson started a seven-point run for the Pandas, with Jarome scoring three of those on kills, and after the Seahawks ended that run, Padua added five more. Lucey tipped one over the wall for the final point there. Lucey capped the first set with a block.
The Seahawks and Pandas were tied at 10 in the second set when DMA pulled ahead with four in a row and six of the next seven, punctuated by a smash off the hands of Garvey. The Pandas stayed close but could not overtake the Seahawks, coming within a point several times, including 24-23. Nina Tindall earned the win for DMA with a blast down the middle.
Final statistics were not available late Saturday night. Padua (16-0) will meet Archmere in a quarterfinal-round matchup at the St. E Center. It will begin shortly after the conclusion of Conrad’s match against St. Mark’s, which commences at 6 p.m.
“We don’t even think about undefeated because at this point it doesn’t even matter. This whole tournament is basically like a new season. We’re just going out for each game like it’s our last,” Jarome said.
The loss ended a two-year reign as state champions for Delaware Military Academy, which finished the season at 8-7.