Home Local Sports Capacity crowd watches Padua sweep Ursuline volleyball: Photo gallery

Capacity crowd watches Padua sweep Ursuline volleyball: Photo gallery

Players from Padua and Ursuline watch as three Pandas hit the floor in an attempt to keep the ball in the air. Dialog photo/Jason Winchell

WILMINGTON — After a year away from the rivalry, students from Ursuline and Padua were ready to let loose during the first of two matches this season between the neighboring schools. Inside a raucous Laffey-McHugh Gymnasium, the second-ranked Pandas withstood the challenge from the host Raiders, leaving with a 3-0 sweep on Sept. 30. Set scores were 25-13, 25-20, and 25-23.

The Pandas broke open a close first set, outscoring Ursuline, 14-4, to take it going away. Meghan Peters got the scoring started during that run, adjusting after mis-timing her jump and knocking the ball over with her left hand. Audrey Lyons followed with an ace, and Cassidy Jester unleashed one of several bombs to extend the lead to six, prompting a Raiders timeout.

Jester scored again out of the break, and the Raiders could not overcome the deficit. Padua finished the set on a 4-0 run that included a Morgan Bond smash.

The Raiders settled down in the second set, cutting down on their unforced errors and giving Padua all it could handle. They started with a 4-1 lead, and that grew to four points at 7-3 on a huge block by Faith Kleitz. Jester helped cut that lead in half, but consecutive kills by Ava Panunto restored the four-point lead, which grew to its biggest at 11-6 on a Pandas hitting error.

A Raiders mishit, however, began a Pandas run that also included another Bond smash, followed by an ace from Mandy Quinn. The big hits continued, and finally, Padua drew even at 13 when Lyons served up an ace. The Raiders briefly regained the lead, but a sequence that went Jester kill, unforced error, Peters ace, and Olivia Staats block put the Pandas back on top to stay. Staats ended it with a dink over the Raiders’ front line.

Ursuline played its best volleyball in the third, delighting the large student section in the upper level of the bleachers. Again, the Raiders forged a five-point lead at 10-5, with Katherine Kardash and Panunto being key contributors. The defense was stout on both sides, with bodies flying all over the floor.

The Raiders maintained a lead of two or three points most of the wayeven as late as 20-17 after a Kelley block. But the Pandas chipped away. The Raiders were called for a violation, and Jester was blocked out of bounds. After a timeout, Ursuline briefly righted the ship, with Kleitz tapping one over the front line. The set was tied one last time at 23, but two big kills, by Bond and Peters, ended the evening.

Jester finished a big night with a match-high 20 kills, along with 12 digs. Peters had 11 kills, while Lyons served up four aces. The Pandas (6-1) take on Wilmington Charter on the road Tuesday at 5:15 p.m.

The Raiders had six kills from Kelley, while three players (Kleitz, Panunto and Cecilia Decaro) each had five. Ursuline (5-2) hosts Newark Charter on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.

All photos by Jason Winchell.