Home Local Sports Friends outslugs Padua, takes 3-2 volleyball thriller: Photo gallery

Friends outslugs Padua, takes 3-2 volleyball thriller: Photo gallery

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Reena Robinson attempts a kill for Friends. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — Padua and Wilmington Friends battled on the volleyball court for more than two hours on Oct. 21 in a highly anticipated matchup of two teams ranked in the top four in the state by Delaware Live/302Sports. The Pandas and Quakers did not disappoint, going five thrilling sets before No. 4 Friends squeaked out a two-point victory in the fifth set for the 3-2 win.

Set scores were 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 19-25, and 15-13. The teams also went five sets the last time they met, which was in the semifinals of last year’s state tournament, with the Pandas coming out on top in that one.

The fifth set started on a good note for the Quakers. Abby Carian started with a kill, followed by a long push from Natalie Bush following a great save by libero Jocelyn Nathan. Nathan then served up an ace to stake the Quakers to a 3-0 lead.

Meghan Peters got the Pandas on the board with a kill down the right sideline, and Friends clung to a narrow lead for several minutes until Padua, ranked second in the state, tied the score at 7 on a smash by Morgan Bond and a Mandy Quinn ace.

The teams got on the seesaw after that, with ties at each point between 8-8 and 12-12. Padua’s only lead during that stretch, and in the fifth set, camea t 12-11, when the Quakers were called for a double contact violation. Scarlett Burleigh tied the score at 12 by going down the middle with a kill, and an unforced error put Friends back on top. After a timeout, the Quakers sent it to set point when a Padua dig went high into the air and off an air conditioning duct, falling to the floor. Bond saved one match point with a blast into the floor, but Reena Robinson ended the evening with an attack deep down the left side, off a Panda and into the bleachers.

It was the culmination of an evening that featured plenty of big hits, a plethora of standout defensive plays and a true postseason feel.

The Pandas opened the night with a 4-1 lead, but the set largely belonged to Robinson. She had consecutive kills to tie the set at 4. The ties kept coming until a 3-0 Pandas run – punctuated by a Peyton Sullivan ace — restored a three-point Pandas lead. It was still three at 19-16 before the Quakers made their move. Robinson smashed one down the left sideline to begin the comeback. Two straight Abby Carian blasts retied the score at 20.

Kills by Peters tied the score at 21-21 and 22-22, but the set ended with a bang for Friends. Carian went deep down the middle for the lead, and a Robinson block sent it to set point. Robinson scored on another kill to put the Quakers ahead by a set.

The Quakers grabbed the early 6-2 lead in the second, with Carian responsible for four of those points on three kills and a service winner. Eleanor Dealy’s ace increased the lead to 8-3, but the Pandas roared back. A Bond redirect and two Peters kills were part of a rally that got them to within one point, and the teams remained close. Bond smacked one off the Quakers’ block to tie the score, 12-12.

Friends threatened to run away with the second set, using a 5-0 run to take a 19-14 lead. But the Pandas scored eight of the next 10. An unforced error ended the second.

Carian was hot to open the third, but a series of errors and violations helped the Pandas come back to tie the set at 7. The next three points went Peters bomb, Bond smash, Sullivan ace, prompting a Quakers timeout.

Robinson scored on a blast of her own out of the timeout, but the Pandas held on to a small lead until Friends tied on an attack error. Tied at 16, the Quakers began a 6-1 stretch with a Robinson block and ended it when her kill tickled the end line. At set point, Olivia Staats of the Pandas saved one with a shot to the right side, but a violation on Panda gave the win to the Quakers.

Facing defeat, the Pandas played their best volleyball in the fourth. Again, a modest early lead did not last, with Friends erasing a 4-0 deficit to open the set. A Pandas service error allowed Friends to tie at 7, but the Pandas went on a 5-0 run after that, with Peters accounting for two of those points on kills.

Lots of big hits from Sullivan and Peters for Padua and Carian and Robinson for the Quakers, put a buzz in the building as the teams stayed close. The Pandas pulled away, building up an eight-point advantage, 23-15, before the Quakers scored four straight. But Padua It went to set point on an unforced error, and Mancini sent the match to five sets with her block.

For the Quakers, Carian had 30 kills and 12 digs, while Robinson added 23 kills and 19 digs. Nathan had 39 digs, and Bush had 16 digs and 56 assists. The Quakers (10-2) visit Tower Hill on Saturday at 2 p.m.

For Padua, Peters had 25 kills and 18 digs. Staats had five blocks, and Quinn led with 36 digs. Audrey Lyons picked p 48 assists. The Pandas (10-3) are home Saturday at 4 p.m. against Delaware Military Academy.

All photos by Mike Lang.