WILMINGTON — The third-seeded Padua Pandas used a balanced attack and strong service game to defeat No. 14 Ursuline, 3-0, in the second round of the DIAA volleyball state tournament. Set scores were 25-17, 25-19, and 25-22.
The Pandas were able to finally play a state tournament match in their cozy gym, and they looked confident to start the match. Padua got some early big kills from seniors Mackenzie Sobczyk and Madison Wilheim to jump out to a 15-11 lead. The Raiders got a kill by Avery Brown to cut it to 17-14 before the Pandas took over thanks to their defense. The first was a great dig by Colleen McClintock that led to a Sobczyk kill to start an 8-3 run to give the home team a one-set lead.
Audrey Lyons lead a strong service game in the second set with a pair of aces during a six-point run to give the Pandas a 20-11 lead. The Raiders got going out of a timeout with a pair of kills by Brown and a kill by Hannah Kelley to cut it to 23-17. Peyton Sullivan scored on a nice kill, and a hitting error gave the Pandas a 2-0 lead.
The third set started with some scoring runs as Ursuline scored the first three points. The Pandas put up the next five behind some strong serving from Lyons and some powerful kills by Wilheim. The Raiders answered with five of the next seven points behind solid defense from Heyli Velasquez and a couple of big kills from Brown.
Then the teams went back and forth on the seesaw as the lead changed hands five times. Padua extended it to 21-19 on a kill by Sobczyk. Meghan Wilhelm secured the win with a block.
The Pandas (10-2) advance to the quarterfinal round on Tuesday when they will face the winner of the Concord at Indian River match on Saturday night. The Pandas will probably play at Padua at 6:30 p.m. Sobczyk led the Pandas with 18 kills, while Madison Wilheim added 12 kills. McClintock paced the defense with 32 digs while Lyons added 11 digs, 33 assists, three aces and three blocks.
The Raiders finished the season at 6-8. Their statistics were not late Friday.
All photos by Jason Winchell.