WILMINGTON – For three sets on Thursday night, St. Elizabeth and St. Thomas More played remarkably even volleyball. But in the fourth set, St. Elizabeth ratcheted its game up a notch or two and defeated the Ravens, 3-1, at a sweltering St. E Center. Set scores were 25-22, 25-20, 16-25 and 25-10.
The Vikings (2-1) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the fourth set and never looked back. The points came via the offense, including two kills by Elisa Hackendorn, and several unforced errors by St. Thomas More. St. Elizabeth was leading, 8-4, before scoring 11 of the next 12 points, taking a 19-5 advantage that took the suspense away in the set.
The Ravens (0-1) had few answers up front for the Vikings’ Alexis Lee. The sophomore finished with a team-leading 13 kills, keeping the pressure on the St. Thomas More defense all evening. St. Elizabeth also received multiple kills from Kailee Gautier and Erin Sammler in that set.
St. Thomas More dressed eight players for the match. That gave them just two substitutions in the muggy gym, while St. Elizabeth had a multitude of player options available.
The first three sets were extremely competitive. The first set was tied six times before the Vikings scored four straight, two on kills by Hackendorn, to take a 13-9 lead. St. Thomas More battled back, however. Trailing, 17-14, the Ravens scored the next six, but an Alyssa San Diego ace forged the final tie, at 21. Karli Cathell ended the set with a kill that was tipped over the back line.
After falling behind early in the second, the Ravens fought back to take a 13-8 lead on a run that included back-to-back aces by Jessica Crawford and a dink by Kourtnie Orth. The hitting of Lee and Cathell proved too big of an obstacle, however, and Cathell finished the second set with a smash down the left side for the 2-0 advantage.
St. Thomas More again managed a lead in the third, and this time the Ravens would not let the Vikings back into the game. Orth, Sarah Pool and Jessica Crawford provided the muscle up front, while setter Gillian Crawford drilled consecutive aces midway through. The team clinched the set on an ace by Logan Hughes.
Cathell had 10 kills and 13 digs, while Hackendorn finished with six kills and 16 digs. St. Thomas More’s statistics were not available late Thursday evening. The Vikings are back in action Wednesday at home vs. St. Georges Tech, while the Ravens open their home schedule today vs. Milford at 5:30 p.m.