WILMINGTON — Archmere rebounded from a second-set loss by holding off Conrad in the third set, then making quick work of the fourth set in a 3-1 win in Diamond State Athletic Conference volleyball on Nov. 19. Set scores were 25-17, 18-25, 25-22, and 25-10.
The Auks, playing their final regular-season match of the season, led the Red Wolves by just a single point in the opening set after Conrad’s Stefanie Kulesza recorded a kill to make the score 17-16. Colleen McCann got that point back for Archmere with a push, sparking a seven-point run that sent the first to set point. Hope Merritt, who had a big first set, ended it with a cross-court winner.
Conrad was undaunted, and the Red Wolves literally served notice that they would not go away quietly. Alexis Rutkowski got the set started with an ace, the beginning of a 3-0 start. Merritt nearly singlehandedly brought the Auks back into the set, scoring on three consecutive kills to help her team get back to within one at 6-5, then giving Archmere a 7-6 lead by directing a shot to her right into open floor.
But a 6-2 run later on provided the Red Wolves with a 21-15 cushion. The set ended with Conrad scoring its final points without a kill or an ace.
That set the stage for a knock-’em-down, drag-’em-out third set whose winner was unclear until the final point. The Auks staked the Red Wolves to an early 4-0 lead with a series of miscues. Merritt finally scored the Auks’ first point with a crossing shot that found open spaces, and Archmere went to work closing the gap.
They took the lead at 13-12 on a violation by the Red Wolves, only to see Conrad score the next three, with the first two coming on kills by Kulesza and Rutkowski. Gia Melasecca stretched the lead to 18-15 with a dump shot that caught the Auks completely off-guard, but Archmere’s final comeback began there.
Jessica Lattanzi bookended a 5-0 run with a block to start and a tip to finish. A few points later, Kulesza stuffed an overpass to forge the final tie at 21-21, but Lydia Scarpaci scored on a cross, and McCann served up an ace before a hitting error sent it to set point. Conrad saved twice, but Hannah Wright smacked a back-line kill to put the Auks ahead, 2-1.
McCann opened with the serve in the fourth, and she had two aces during a five-point run to open. Archmere did not relent, building a big lead and preventing the Red Wolves from closing the gap. Sophia Scarpaci aced four straight serves late in the fourth, and Merritt ended the proceedings with a smash.
Final statistics for Archmere were not available Thursday night. The Auks finished the regular season at 7-4 after their finale was canceled. They will be off until the state tournament, which is scheduled to begin the week of Nov. 30.
Kulesza led the Red Wolves with 17 kills, and she added 11 digs. Adrienne Testa had 20 digs, and Riley Greenley added 12. Conrad is 4-6 and travels to Caravel on Monday for a 6:15 p.m. start.
All photos by Mike Lang.