WILMINGTON — Archmere and Padua are old friends on the volleyball court, having battled many times over the years. The teams traded kills and digs again on Nov. 17, with the Pandas rebounding from a 2-1 deficit for a thrilling five-set victory. Set scores were 21-25, 25-17, 16-25, 25-12, and 15-12.
The night was filled with booming swings from the hitters on both sides, and that continued into the final set. Meghan Wilhelm opened the scoring in the fifth with a kill that went off three Auks before finding the floor. After the Auks tied the score, her sister Madison scored for the Pandas on an absolute blast.
Padua built a few two-point leads, but Archmere tied it up on both occasions. The Auks took the lead, 8-7, on an ace from Hannah Wright, but a kill from Peyton Sullivan and a hitting error put the Pandas right back on top. Ava Scarpacci twice brought the Auks back into a tie with kills, and after Sullivan scored to make it 11-10 Padua, it was Hope Merritt’s right arm that forged the final tie at 11.
Mackenzie Sobczyk, who enjoyed a big night for the Pandas, stuffed an overpass, followed by Audrey Lyons catching the Auks off-guard by going over on a second hit, and this time the lead stood up. Merritt got one point back for Archmere, but the set and match ended on an off-balance tip by the Pandas’ Olivia Staats.
The match was a bit unusual because the middle three sets were not as close as expected. The Pandas rebounded from a first-set setback with a big second. They took advantage of some Auks errors and mixed in great net play from Sobczyk and Madison Wilhelm for the win.
It was Archmere’s turn to shine in the third set. The Auks found every seam in the Padua defense, with those shots set up by blanketing defense both up front and on the back line. Sobczyk continued her assault for the Pandas, but she was matched by Scarpacci up front and Wright in the back. The Auks took control, however, during a run with Sophia Scarpacci on serve in which the sophomore delivered four aces over a six-point span.
Padua took it to the Auks in the fourth, taking control early on. The Pandas scored seven straight to build a 10-1 lead, with Sobczyk coming up with two big kills, Lyons serving up an ace, and Staats ending that run with a kill. The Auks could never close the gap to fewer than eight points, the last time at 19-11, at which time Colleen McClintock served up consecutive aces. Staats ended the set with a kill.
Sobczyk finished with 24 kills; Sullivan and Staats had eight each. McClintock had 32 digs. The Pandas improved to 7-1 and will host Ursuline for senior night on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
For the Auks, Merritt led with 14 kills, with Ava Scarpacci adding 10. Wright had 30 digs. Sophia Scarpacci had six aces. The Auks (6-4) conclude their regular season on Thursday at Conrad at 3:45 p.m.
After the match, the Auks congratulated Wright for reaching 1,000 career digs. She came into the night needing 19. The team, joined by Wright’s father and sister outside Padua, surprised her when she exited the building.
All photos by Mike Lang.