ALAPOCAS – When it comes to the attack for the Wilmington Friends’ volleyball team, Dani Nathan is the straw that stirs the drink. And while the sophomore had a superb outing Oct. 18 against Archmere, she had lots of support from Delaney Martin and Alexandra Musi.
It was Musi, in fact, who sent match point off the tape and the hands of an Auks defender as Friends picked up a five-set, come-from-behind win over Archmere, the No. 1-ranked and last undefeated team in the state. The scores in the marathon match were 21-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-16 and 15-11, which provided the Quakers with their first win in a five-setter this season in three opportunities.
Musi had a fine outing in a match that was played in honor of her grandfather, George Patrick, who died two years ago from bladder cancer. The crowd was filled with purple shirts on Bladder Cancer Awareness Night, and a purple balloon floated above a seat in the bleachers where Patrick would sit to watch the Quakers play. Musi, who had 17 kills, and Martin, with 13, gave Friends much-needed offense up front while Nathan was on the back line.
The Quakers entered the fifth set on the heels of a dominant fourth, which Archmere trailed at one point, 18-6, before making a late run with several starters on the bench. Martin staked Friends to a 4-1 lead with three kills – one off a defender, one that kissed the end line and the third a cross-court smash. Archmere rebounded with three straight to tie the set, and the race to 15 was cut to a race to 11.
Musi and Nathan sandwiched kills around a Katrina Skibicki ace to restore the three-point advantage, but the Auks hung close and narrowed the deficit to 10-9 when Grace Merritt smoked one. An unforced error on Archmere made it 11-9, and Musi extended that to 13-9 with a pair of blocks. Alyssa Nathan served up an ace to give the Quakers five match points.
Archmere saved two of those, but the Auks could muster only so much magic. The left-handed Musi sent the next point from her spot on the left side across the court and off the tape, and the Auks could not get a good shot at it.
Dani Nathan was relatively quiet in the final set, but her fingerprints were all over the Quakers’ success all night long as she finished with a match-best 31 kills. She went down the lines, up the middle and cross court, punishing the ball just about every time she touched it from both the front and back lines. Several of her shots were virtually unplayable, such as the final two points of the second set. She added 21 digs and a pair of aces. Her sister finished with an incredible 63 assists.
Archmere received fine outings from several players, Merritt, Lexi Kelly and Julia Kochie in particular. Kochie and Kelly shared team honors with 10 kills each, while Merritt had eight. Kochie, a freshman, also added four aces and 17 digs, both of which led the Auks.
Friends picked up its sixth win against four losses, and Tuesday’s victory will be worth valuable bonus points when it comes to seeding teams for the tournament. The Quakers play their final home game of the regular season on Friday at 6:15 p.m. vs. Concord, then hit the road for their final three matches.
Archmere, which had won its only other five-set match on Sept. 27 against St. Mark’s, travels to Padua on Friday for a 6:15 p.m. showdown with the second-ranked Pandas.