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Meghan Peters keys third-set comeback for Padua in volleyball sweep over Delaware Military: Photo gallery

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Meghan Peters (right) follows through on a crossing attempt. She finished with 20 kills. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — Padua threatened to run away with each of the first two sets on Oct. 23 when Delaware Military Academy visited Broom Street, but the Seahawks made the Pandas work for those two wins. DMA, however, had the lead in the third set, but a furious Pandas comeback resulted in extra points and a dramatic win, giving Padua a hard-earned sweep. Set scores were 25-22, 25-23, and 27-25.

A bit more on the first two sets is forthcoming, but let’s fast forward to the third. DMA quickly erased a 3-0 Pandas start, earning a 4-4 tie on an ace from Ashley Ludlum. A second ace put the Seahawks ahead for the first time in the match, and they kept the pressure on.

With the score tied at 6, the Seahawks got a kill from Alyssa Talley, an Adrianna Bush ace and a block by Carly Opalach to take a three-point lead. The DMA lead went to seven four times, the last instance being at 23-16 after Opalach smacked an attack off the tape to the floor. But the Pandas, in particular Meghan Peters, would not be deterred.

The comeback began with a Seahawks error, followed by an ace by Mandy Quinn. Peters then smacked a ball off the top of the net that found the floor, and the next two points were no-doubt-about-it kills by the senior. After a DMA timeout, a nice dig by the Pandas turned into a straight-down blast by Peters to get Padua to within one at 23-22.

A service error gave the Seahawks set point, but Peters saved one with a kill off the wall. She struck again on the next point, sending a ball into the floor to tie the set at 24. Audrey Lyons served up an ace to send it to match point No. 1, but Lillian Wenzel answered with a kill for DMA to knot the score at 25. But why not more Peters? She went down the right side to send it to match point No. 2, and then she closed out the day with an ace.

Before the third-set heroics by Peters, the teams had played two hard-fought sets marked by big hits and solid defense. Padua began the afternoon with a 6-0 lead, the last point coming on an ace by Lyons. The Pandas’ biggest lead of the first was 12-4, but the Seahawks got it much, much closer before it ended.

The big hitter for Delaware Military was Lillian Wenzel, who was a consistent scorer. She kept them close until consecutive smashes by Morgan Bond put Padua ahead, 21-15. But Opalach spearheaded a resurgence with a kill. Talley added a kill a few points later, and a Padua error cut the Pandas’ lead to 22-20. Consecutive kills by Peters sent it to set point, and DMA saved twice. But a service error lifted Padua to the win.

Padua held on to small leads well into the second set, with their front line rotation of Peters, Bond, Peyton Sullivan and Mary Mancini doing much of the damage. The Pandas pulled ahead by six at 18-12 after DMA was called for an infraction. Talley scored on a push kill, and Lillian Poitras added an ace to cut that deficit to four, but the Pandas quickly re-established the six-point margin at 20-14.

A series of Padua errors, coupled with Wenzel’s strong play, got the lead down to three at 22-19. Mary Mancini got one back for the Pandas, but Wenzel threw up a block on the next rally to make it 23-20. A Ludlum ace, followed by a hitting error and another Wenzel bomb, tied the score.

The Pandas called tmeout, and they responded. Olivia Staats smashed an attack off the Seahawks’ block for set point, and Sullivan scored deep down the middle to take the second.

Peters finished with 20 kills and 16 digs, along with two aces, including the match-clincher. Sullivan had seven kills and 17 digs. Quinn led the way with 25 digs. Padua (10-3) is back in action Tuesday at Saint Mark’s at 7:15 p.m.

Final statistics were not available Saturday night for the Seahawks. DMA (6-5) has its regular-season home finale on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against Ursuline before playing two on the road.

All photos by Mike Lang.