WILMINGTON — Padua used a balanced attack from its front line to sweep Newark Charter in a mild volleyball upset on Oct. 15. The Pandas, ranked third in the most recent Delaware Live/302Sports top 10, swept the No. 2 Patriots, with all three sets ending 25-21.
The first two sets unfolded in slightly different manners, but the result was the same. The Pandas built up a small lead that stayed in the two- to three-point range throughout much of the first. Several Pandas played a role in getting them there, including Mary Mancini and Peyton Sullivan, and Kira Hearn added an ace for good measure. But the Patriots pulled to within one at 10-9 on a Gillian Burrows deep kill.
A block by Sara Shuts tied the score at 14, but with the score knotted at 16, the Pandas made their move. Meghan Peters began a four-point run with a kill from the left outside, and Olivia Staats and Mancini had consecutive blocks. Mancini’s block was made possible by two pancake digs by Mandy Quinn, energizing the Padua bench and crowd.
However, after a Newark Charter timeout, the Patriots rallied to tie the score at 20. That run included two smashes by Emily Turner, and Angela Steinkrauss scored the tying point on an ace. Another Mancini block propelled the Pandas to a 24-20 lead, and after one saved set point, the first ended on a service error.
Newark Charter took the early lead in the second set. They fell behind, 3-0, but responded by scoring the next six points. The visitors still led by three at 12-9, but Peters scored on four consecutive kills to put the Pandas on top. After Steinkrauss knocked a kill off the tape to tie it at 13, Padua went on a 5-0 run and didn’t look back.
Morgan Bond helped the Pandas extend the lead to seven, 23-16, with a few big swings, but Aubrey Celeste scored three times for the Patriots in a 4-0 run as they cut the Pandas’ lead to three. The sizeable Newark Charter fan contingent shouting encouragement, but a service error sent it to set point, and after Celeste went down the left side for one save, Peters found a seam down the middle to extend the Padua advantage to two sets.
The score was close at the opening of the third, but a three-point run that included a blast by Shuts and a Celeste ace put the Patriots ahead, 9-5. Later on, consecutive errors by the Pandas helped extend that lead to 14-9, but Padua again fought back.
Down by an 18-14 score, Bond went straight down for a point. Quinn served up an ace, and Peters hit an unplayable cross. Newark Charter scored the next two, but a block, a Patriots error and an ace from Audrey Lyons led to a 20-20 tie. A Peters bomb gave Padua the lead. It was still a one-point Pandas advantage at 22-21 before three more unforced errors closed out the match.
Peters finished with a match-leading 16 kills, while Mancini and Bond had seven each. Quinn led the way with 22 digs. The Pandas (8-2) remain home for their next game, which is Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. against Tower Hill.
For the Patriots, Celeste had 10 kills, and Turner added eight. McKenna Ritchie had 17 digs. Newark Charter fell to 10-2 and will host First State Military on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.