Home Local Sports High school volleyball returns with Catholic teams eyeing strong seasons once again

High school volleyball returns with Catholic teams eyeing strong seasons once again

626
Saint Mark’s celebrates after winning the state volleyball championship, last season. The Spartans open on Thursday. Photo/Don Blake

Volleyball returns this week with a Catholic school the defending state champion for the second consecutive season, but as usual, the road to the state tournament will be a grind for all of those teams with title aspirations.

Saint Mark’s defeated Padua last year for its first championship since 2012, a reversal from 2019, when the Pandas took care of business against the Spartans. (Ursuline was the 2017 state champ, and Archmere reached the final in 2018.) All of these schools have schedules filled with challenges, so by the time the tournament rolls around in early November, they should be ready to go.

The atmosphere at the games should return to close to what it was pre-pandemic. All of the schools are allowing fans, although all must wear masks when indoors. Last season, teams were limited, and this year, three feet between spectators is recommended, although not required.

St. Elizabeth is first up since the Vikings are the first Catholic school to play this season. They will host Glasgow on Wednesday evening. Saint Mark’s and Archmere are on the schedule Thursday, while Padua and Ursuline both open Friday. Schedules are subject to change.

St. Elizabeth

The Vikings are looking to bounce back from a tough season under a new coach, Mike Zampini, who moved over from Concord High School. Laura Jezyk and Jenna Bozzo lead the returning players.

St. Elizabeth will play in the Diamond State Athletic Conference, which does not offer much of a break on the schedule. Several of the state’s top teams call the DSAC home. The nonconference slate includes Saint Mark’s, Ursuline and Padua, so the Vikings will again play a quality schedule.

2020 record: 2-10

Schedule (Home games in CAPS)

St. Elizabeth scrimmages against Red Lion. The Vikings start the season Sept. 8 vs. Glasgow. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

Sept. 8: GLASGOW, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 10: PADUA, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 14: Conrad, 5:15 p.m

Sept. 16: Red Lion, 7 p.m.

Sept. 23: NEWARK CHARTER, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 28: First State Military, 5 p.m.

Sept. 30: Saint Mark’s, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 2: WILLIAM PENN, 12:15 p.m.

Oct. 4: BRANDYWINE, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 7: ARCHMERE, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 12: MOT Charter, 5 p.m.

Oct. 14: Ursuline, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 21: DELAWARE MILITARY, 7:15 P.M.

Oct. 26: Wilmington Charter, 6 p.m.

Oct. 28: A.I. DUPONT, 7:15 p.m.

 

Saint Mark’s

The Spartans enter the season as the defending state champion for the first time in nearly a decade, and they will be among the favorites to be the last team standing again in 2021. Eight seniors are on the roster, including hitters Mya Lewis, Nicole Dimiris and Brooke Dow, and all-stater Julia Yurkovich is a junior.

Saint Mark’s will be battle-tested once the postseason rolls around. All but one of their opponents were in last season’s state tournament. As usual, the Spartans will wrap the regular season up against Ursuline in what has become the state’s final match before the tournament.

2020 record: 15-0, won state championship

Schedule (Home games in CAPS)

Saint Mark’s, here practicing against Ursuline, opens defense of its state title on Sept. 9. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

Sept. 9: BRANDYWINE, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 14: Wilmington Friends, 5:15 p.m.

Sept. 16: Wilmington Charter, 5:15 p.m.

Sept. 21: Padua, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 23: RED LION, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 28: URSULINE, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 30: ST. ELIZABETH, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 6: Delaware Military, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 9: Newark Charter, 12:15 p.m.

Oct. 12: Smyrna, 5:15 p.m.

Oct. 14: APPOQUINIMINK, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 19: ARCHMERE, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 22: MIDDLETOWN, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 26: PADUA, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 30: Ursuline, 7 p.m.

 

Padua

The Pandas lost some key pieces to graduation, but on Broom Street, they just reload, not rebuild. Setter is a position of strength with senior Audrey Lyons, and Mandy Quinn is a weapon on the serve. Meghan Peters and Peyton Sullivan give the team a potent one-two punch at outside hitter.

Padua will play 13 matches against in-state competition, with all but two of them tournament participants last season. In addition, familiar foes are back this year. The Pandas will travel to Paul VI in Virginia and welcome Paul VI from New Jersey. Five of their final six matches are at home.

2020 record: 12-3, lost to Saint Mark’s in state championship match

Schedule (Home games in CAPS)

Padua took on Wilmington Charter in a preseason play day in preparation for its opener on Sept. 10. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

Sept. 10: St. Elizabeth, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 16: Archmere, 6 p.m.

Sept. 18: Paul VI (Va.), 1 p.m.

Sept. 21: SAINT MARK’S, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 25: SMYRNA, 4 p.m.

Sept. 28: PAUL VI (N.J.), 5:15 p.m.

Sept. 30: Ursuline, 7 p.m.

Oct. 5: Wilmington Charter, 5:15 p.m.

Oct. 7: Caravel, 6:15 p.m.

Oct. 15: NEWARK CHARTER, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 19: TOWER HILL, 5:15 p.m.

Oct. 21: WILMINGTON FRIENDS, 6:15 p.m.

Oct. 23: DELAWARE MILITARY, 4 p.m.

Oct. 26: Saint Mark’s, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 28: URSULINE, 7:15 p.m.

 

Archmere

Archmere returns a solid base under a new coach, Jerry McCarthy, who spent the last four seasons at St. Elizabeth. The Auks will be solid up front with Hope Merritt, Jessican Lattanzi and Autumn Richardson-Peters anchoring. It is also a veteran group, with just two sophomores on the 13-girl roster.

The Auks, as usual, will play one of the state’s tougher schedules, with several challenging nonconference games on top of their Diamond State Athletic Conference slate. Seven of their first 10 matches are at home.

2020 record: 8-5, lost to Saint Mark’s in the second round of the state tournament

Schedule (Home games in CAPS)

Archmere and Friends met up recently for a preseason match. The Auks take on Smyrna on Sept. 9. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

Sept. 9: SMYRNA, 6 p.m.

Sept. 14: First State Military, 5 p.m.

Sept. 16: PADUA, 6 p.m.

Sept. 21: Ursuline, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 23: DELAWARE MILITARY, 6 p.m.

Sept. 29: MOT CHARTER, 6 p.m.

Oct. 5: RED LION, 6 p.m.

Oct. 7: St. Elizabeth, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 12: CARAVEL, 6 p.m.

Oct. 15: WILMINGTON CHARTER, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 19: Saint Mark’s, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 21: Conrad, 5:15 p.m.

Oct. 23: Appoquinimink, 1:30 p.m.

Oct. 26: Tower Hill, 5:15 p.m.

Oct. 28: NEWARK CHARTER, 6 p.m.

 

Ursuline

Coach Sue Heiss enters her 40th season leading the Raiders, who are coming off a rare campaign under .500. That did not prevent them from earning a tournament berth and picking up a win. Five seniors graduated from that squad, which also had its share of youth. A trio of juniors — Hannah Kelley, Ava Panunto and Faith Kleitz — bring another year of experience to Pennsylvania Avenue.

The schedule is challenging as usual. Aside from home-and-homes with Saint Mark’s and Padua, the Raiders will face the four best teams from the Diamond State Athletic Conference, along with two of the top programs from Sussex County, Indian River and Cape Henlopen.

2020 record: 6-8, lost to Padua in the second round of the state tournament

Schedule (Home games in CAPS)

Ursuline battled Saint Mark’s in late August. The Raiders travel to Newark on Sept. 10 to begin the regular season. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

Sept. 10: Newark, 5 p.m.

Sept. 16: DELMARVA CHRISTIAN, 6:15 p.m.

Sept. 18: INDIAN RIVER, 12:45 p.m.

Sept. 21: ARCHMERE, 7:15 p.m.

Sept. 25: Tower Hill, 1 p.m.

Sept. 28: Saint Mark’s, 7:!5 p.m.

Sept. 30: PADUA, 7 p.m.

Oct. 5: NEWARK CHARTER, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 9: Cape Henlopen, 1:15 p.m.

Oct. 14: ST. ELIZABETH, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 16: Bishop Shanahan (Pa.), time TBA

Oct. 19: WILMINGTON CHARTER, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 26: Delaware Military, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 28: Padua, 7:15 p.m.

Oct. 30: SAINT MARK’S, 7 p.m.