WILMINGTON – Tatnall had fought back to tie St. Elizabeth at two sets apiece in the teams’ first-round matchup Thursday night at St. Mark’s High School. The 18th-seeded Hornets, however, could not keep the momentum going into the fifth, and the teams found themselves tied at 10 in the final frame.
A dink by the Vikings’ Elisa Hackendorn gave St. Elizabeth (6-10), the 15th seed, an 11-10 lead, prompting Tatnall coach John Evans to call his final timeout. Whatever Evans said worked, because the Hornets returned to the court and scored the next five points to take a 3-2 marathon from St. Elizabeth. With the win, Tatnall (9-7) advances to meet No. 2 Padua (12-3) on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Brandywine High School.
From Schoolhouse Rock, we all know that the number 3 is a magic number, but on Thursday, 4 was the key. After a first set won by seven by St. Elizabeth, 25-18, the next four sets were each decided by four: 21-25, 25-21, 21-25 and 11-15. The match took nearly two and a half hours.
Neither the Hornets nor the Vikings played their crispest volleyball, and the proof was right there in Tatnall’s clinching five-point run. The first four points of the run came on unforced errors; only the match winner was the result of a kill, as junior Lindsey Moyer’s spike was blocked out of bounds.
The Vikings had trouble all night with Moyer, who led the Hornets with 19 kills, although in the first set, they pulled away for a convincing win. St. Elizabeth finished the set on a 7-2 run, led by some fantastic front-line defense from Kailee Gautier, Alexis Lee and Erin Sammler. Lee and Sammler teamed up to block Moyer to win the first.
Tatnall sprinted to a 6-2 lead in the second, taking advantage of numerous Vikings errors and two big kills by Juliana Campbell. But the Vikings climbed back into a tie at 14 on consecutive kills by Elisa Hackendorn and Karli Cathell. Tatnall scored the next four, then hung on for the win.
The teams were close throughout the third, with an ace by Campbell bringing the Hornets to within a point at 14-13, St. Elizabeth rattled off the next five and nine of the next 13. The Hornets fought off four set points before a service error finished the set.
Tatnall sent it to a fifth by winning an error-filled fourth. The Hornets were in front most of the way, although St. Elizabeth briefly took a two-point advantage at 18-16. The game was tied at 19 when Campbell gave her team the lead for good with one of her 10 kills. Sydney Castagna sent it to set point at 24-20 with a block, and the match was tied two points later on a Vikings unforced error.
Libby Juliano led the Hornets with 24 digs, while Mirthe Berends had 22. St. Elizabeth’s statistics were not available late Thursday night.
The other second-round matchups are all on Saturday and will be doubleheaders at four sites. At Brandywine following Tatnall and Padua is No. 10 St. Mark’s vs. No. 7 Smyrna. No. 1 Delaware Military Academy takes on No. 16 Delmar at 6 p.m. at McKean High School, followed by No. 24 Conrad vs. No. 8 Polytech. At Wilmington Friends, the fourth-seeded Quakers host No. 13 St. Thomas More at 6 p.m., followed by No. 5 Ursuline vs. No. 12 Tower Hill. And at Archmere, third-seeded Auks host No. 19 Sanford at 6 p.m., while No. 11 Wilmington Charter battles No. 6 Caravel. Tickets for all postseason matches are available at diaa.ticketleap.com.