ALAPOCAS – Archmere gave up a six-point lead late in the third set of Thursday’s volleyball match at Wilmington Friends, but they rebounded to win the fourth to leave the Alapocas campus with a hard-fought 3-1 win over the Quakers. The set scores were 25-19, 25-19, 23-25, and 26-24.
The third-ranked Auks took a 1-0 lead into the second set, which was tied as late as 14-14. An 8-3 run made it 22-17 Auks, but a service error followed by a back-line attack from the Quakers’ Dani Nathan cut that lead to three. That would be it for the Quakers, however, as Julia Kochie smashed one off the Friends front line, and Sydney Niumataiwalu served up an ace. A hitting error ended the set.
Friends took the early 3-1 lead in the third set, but the Auks rebounded. Aces from Bella Ganfield and Theresa Chua, along with a blast from Jade Bryant, helped the visitors to a 9-5 advantage.
The lead grew to 12-8, but Nathan crushed one down the left side to begin a three-point run for Friends. Archmere restored the four-point advantage at 23-19 on a Bryant kill, but it was not over. Jadyn Elliott scored on a block, and an unforced error gave Friends another point. Katrina Nix stuffed one, then Nathan tied it with a smash from the back line. A block by Nathan made it set point, and Nix won the set when she crushed an overpass.
The fourth set, like the others, was close, although back-to-back aces from Chua helped Archmere to an early 7-3 advantage. Again, Friends fought back, with Nathan drawing them even at 11 with another kill. The back-and-forth continued, and the Auks would have to go an extra point to get out of the gym with the victory.
Kochie paced the Auks with 14 kills, while Lauren Edmiston and Bryant added nine each. Hannah Wright finished with 23 digs, several of them off of Nathan that will surely leave bruises. Archmere is 5-0 and plays seven of its next eight at home, beginning Saturday at 11 a.m. against Cape Henlopen.
Nathan made a case for player of the year with her performance. She had 24 kills, eight aces, two blocks and eight digs. Marish Aldridge and Elliott each added eight kills, and Aldridge also had four blocks. The Quakers fell to 1-3, with all three losses coming to top-five teams. They have another tough one next, visiting top-ranked Ursuline on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.