Home Local Sports Anjali Vishwanathan, Christina Marcin pace Wilmington Charter past Padua in volleyball marathon:...

Anjali Vishwanathan, Christina Marcin pace Wilmington Charter past Padua in volleyball marathon: Photo gallery

Padua's Peyton Sullivan swings while Charter's Anjali Vishwanathan defends. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — Wilmington Charter’s volleyball team had seen this movie play out before, too many times if you ask them. Three times this season in their first seven matches, the Force had gone to a fifth set, and three times they had come out on the short end of the race to 15.

So when Christina Marcin sent a shot off a Padua defender and out of play, the Force — ranked ninth in the state by Delaware Live/302Sports — exhaled and celebrated a win over the second-ranked Pandas. Set scores were 16-25, 25-17, 25-22, 20-25, and 15-10.

The Pandas came out strong in the first set, winning going away. Their front line, including Peyton Sullivan, Olivia Staats, Morgan Bond, Meghan Peters and Mary Mancini took turns scoring on big hits. But the rest of the afternoon would not go that way.

Peters opened the second with a left-handed tip, but the Force bounced back to take the next four points. Charter stayed in front thanks to some big hits from Marcin, and Anjali Vishwanathan contributed consecutive aces as the lead grew to six. Three Peters kills in a 3-1 spurt put Padua back on top, 14-13, and a series of ties followed. After Sullivan knotted the score at 17 with a smash, the Force — with Julia Sauder on the serve — ran the table with the next eight points. Marcin started it with a back-line kill, and Ava MacMurray contributed a key block, plus a slam. Sauder’s ace made it 23-17, and the Force tied the match.

Vishwanathan accounted for six of Charter’s first eight points of the third with a pair of blocks and four kills, all of which were unreturnable. Trailing 8-4, however, the Pandas bounced back with four straight to tie it up, the final point of that run coming on a surprise attack from the setter, Audrey Lyons.

Marcin and Peters traded monstrous kills in the middle of the set, although it was a Marcin ace that tied the score again at 15. Bond helped the Pandas take a pair of late two-point leads in the third, and a Charter service error gave Padua its last two-point advantage at 22-20. But Marcin redirected a ball into an open space to begin a five-point run to end the set.

Facing elimination, the Pandas found themselves trailing, 13-7, in the fourth. But the clawed their way back and were able to forge a tie at 16. Tied at 18, Bond gave Padua the lead for good with a block. She also scored on an unlikely free ball, Peters knocked one down, Staats won a 50-50 ball at the net, and Charter committed an attack error as the lead grew to 24-19. After one saved set point by the Force, Peters dinked one over the net to send the match to the fifth.

Charter set the tone in the final set by scoring the first five points. Marcin was on fire, scoring twice on kills and once with a block in a 6-1 start. The Pandas’ deficit was still five at 8-3 when two unforced errors by Charter got them closer, but Vishwanathan crushed a ball, and an attack error by Padua made it 10-5.

The teams split the next six points, and an ace from Stella Kenney sent it to match point at 14-8. The Pandas saved two of those on a kill from Peters and an ace by Lyons, but Marcin’s last swing brought the marathon to an end.

Vishwanathan had 20 kills, three aces and four blocks for the Force, while Marcin had 19 kills and 18 digs. MacMurray was credited with eight blocks. The Force (4-4) hit the road to meet First State Military on Thursday at 5 p.m.

For Padua, Peters led the way with 20 kills and 21 digs, while three teammates each had seven kills. Bond and Staats each had five blocks, and Mandy Quinn led the way with 25 digs. The Pandas fell to 6-2 and will play on the road at Caravel on Thursday at 6:15 p.m.

All photos by Mike Lang.