WILMINGTON – Archmere’s experience was a bit too much for St. Mark’s to handle in the teams’ volleyball quarterfinal matchup Nov. 6 at the St. E Center. The Auks advanced to the seminfinals with a 3-0 sweep of the Spartans, 25-16, 25-14, 25-18. Archmere is back in the semis after a one-year absence; it is their fourth appearance, however, in the past five seasons.
Julia Kochie was sensational for the second-seeded Auks, and her special night began early. Four of her kills were among the team’s first seven points, and a block by Abby Kates, a Theresa Chua ace and a Spartans hitting error gave them a 10-3 lead, prompting a St. Mark’s timeout. The Spartans, seeded 10th, got two points back on a kill from Mya Lewis and an ace from Alyssa Berggrun, but the Auks’ steadily grew their advantage.
Archmere was able to overcome the spectacular play of St. Mark’s all-state junior Savannah Seemans, who at one point follwed up a clean kill with two blasts through the Auks’ block that cut the Spartans’ deficit to three. But after Brooke Dow of St. Mark’s made it 20-16 on a tip kill, the Auks closed it out with five straight, including an ace from Hannah Wright.
Seemans and Kochie paced their teams as the second set opened, and it was close early. But Archmere sprinted ahead with a 9-2 run that made the score 18-9. The Auks scored in a variety of ways, including aces from Kochie and Wright, two blocks and a kill off the tape by Abby Kates, three blasts from Jade Bryant, and setter Sydney Niumataiwalu going over on two. Archmere finished the set with another Kates block in the middle of two St. Mark’s hitting errors.
Facing the end of their season, the Spartans – with a large, loud student section cheering them on – showed their tenacity. They took a very early lead before the Auks caught them at 4-4, and after trading points, Archmere used a five-point streak punctuated by a Bryant tip to go ahead, 10-5.
Trailing, 13-9, the Spartans made a push. Seemans painted the end line with a bomb down the middle, and she followed with another blast. Dow served up an ace to cut the lead to a point. They stayed within two until late. A run of three points, including Niumataiwalu again going over on two, extended the lead to 21-16. St. Mark’s made one last attempt, as Kyla Dow went through the Auks’ wall to cut it to 21-17, and a hitting error from Archmere brought St. Mark’s even closer. But the Auks closed it out with a Kates bomb, two kills from Bryant, and a final Spartans hitting error.
Kochie had 18 kills and eight digs to lead the Auks, while Bryant contributed eight kills and Wright had 15 digs. Kates added four blocks. The Auks improved to 16-1 and will play Ursuline in the semifinal round on Thursday at 6 p.m. at St. Mark’s. The teams met on Oct. 23, a five-set Auks win.
St. Mark’s was led by Seemans, who stood out with 18 kills and 18 digs. Alyssa Berggrun had 19 digs, while Brooke Dow and Lewis each had four kills. Lewis was credited with four blocks. The Spartans ended their season with a 10-8 record.