For The Dialog
WILMINGTON – Tower Hill came into Padua Academy on Oct. 5 and pulled off a volleyball upset, coming from two sets down to defeat the top-ranked Pandas, 3-2. Maddie Sachs led the way with 22 kills, while Alex Thomson added 20 for the Hillers, who lost a five-setter to the Pandas last season.
Set scores were 18-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-17 and 15-7.
Tower Hill, ninth in the state, fell behind 2-0 as Padua jumped on them in the first set. Emily Jarome had two kills and two early aces, and Jess Molen added a kill to give the hosts a 14-4 lead. Sachs helped Tower come back to within 22-18, but Molen had two more kills, and an Emma Lucey ace ended the set.
Jarome and Sachs put on a show in the second set, each hitting powerful kills and playing great defense. Sachs put her team on top, 20-17, with an ace, but the Pandas ended the set with an 8-2 run that included a Taylor Valletti ace and a thunderous kill by Jarome.
The third set was also back and forth, as Jarome started with five early kills, but she was matched by Sachs and Thomson, who combined for seven. The Hillers then commenced a block party, and libero Abby Carpenter made some key digs in a 25-22 win.
“They have so many big hitters,” Sachs said. “We adjusted in the third set and started to throw up some great blocks.”
Thomson added that the Hillers needed to make some mental adjustments as well. “We regrouped and focused on our game and played like a great team.”
Tower Hill dominated in the fourth set as Sachs and Thomson continued their strong play, and a Sachs kill sent it to a fifth. In the final set, the Hillers jumped on Padua behind an ace by Sachs and two kills for Thomson, giving them a 6-1 lead. Padua made a bit of a comeback, but Thomson put Tower ahead, 11-6, with another kill. A hitting error from Padua provided the final point.
It was a big win for the entire Tower Hill volleyball program, Sachs said.
“The win just makes us feel stronger, and it tells us we can go to the finals again. In past years that wasn’t the case,” she said.
The Hillers improved to 6-1 and get a chance to avenge their only loss on Friday night at home vs. Friends at 7 p.m. Padua, led by Jarome’s 17 kills, fell to 7-1. The Pandas host St. Elizabeth on Saturday at 7:15 p.m.