WILMINGTON — Padua’s volleyball team fell behind Wilmington Charter, two sets to one, on Halloween afternoon, but the Pandas pulled away for a fourth-set win before edging the Force in the fifth for the 3-2 win. Set scores were 25-21, 23-25, 23-25, 25-15, and 15-13.
The Pandas bounced back from a four-set loss to Saint Mark’s on Thursday night, while the Force remain perhaps Delaware’s best winless squad. Charter suffered its second consecutive five-set loss.
The first two sets began in similar fashion. Charter took an 8-2 lead in the first, only to see the Pandas come back to go up by as many as five at 13-8. The Force rallied to tie the set at 13 on a hitting error, and Ava MacMurray put Charter on top with a block. A run late put Padua on top, 20-16, After a timeout, Padua scored four of the next five. Charter saved four set points before Mackenzie Sobczyk pushed a kill to the back line and it was deflected out of bounds.
The Force began the second set with a seven-point surge, including two aces and two other service winners by MacMurray. The streak ended, and the Pandas began the climb back. They scored five straight, with Colleen McClintock tossing in a pair of aces. They finally tied the score at 13 on a Peyton Sullivan smash. The Force scored the next four, the final point coming on an ace from Addie Miller, but Audrey Lyons reciprocated with her own ace as the Pandas tied it again.
The score was tied one more time, at 21, before Charter finished it out. MacMurray got the winner on a tip over the Pandas’ wall.
It was more of the same in the third. Again, the Force built an early advantage, only to see the Pandas fight back. Olivia Staats of Padua leveled the score at 8 with a kill into the middle of the floor, one of several ties in the set. A service violation tied it at 23, but the Force got a blast from MacMurray and took a 2-1 set lead when a Pandas free ball went long.
Sobczyk put Padua ahead to start a set for the first time in the fourth, but the score was tied at each point from one through six and again from eight through 11. But Padua, sparked by a ball just crushed by Sobczyk, began to pull away. Wilhelm put them ahead, 17-12, with a tip. The home team scored the final five points, with Audrey Lyons getting the first of them by killing an overpass. The set ended on a tip kill by Sobczyk.
For the first time, Padua jumped out to a lead in the shortened fifth set. Sobczyk rose up to block a Force kill attempt to send it to 4-0, but the race to 15 was just beginning. Charter got to within a point at 6-5 before forging an 8-8 tie.
Padua went ahead, 13-10, and still it wasn’t over. After a timeout, MacMurray got one back with a smash, and Anjali Vishwanathan scored on a blast from the other side. MacMurray tied it at 13 with a block. A Force service error sent it to match point for the Pandas, and Lyons ended it when her serve was not returned.
Sobczyk had a stellar day with 20 kills, four blocks and 14 digs. Wilhelm had seven kills and three blocks, while Peyton Sullivan contributed six blocks and 17 digs. McClintock had 31 digs. The Pandas meet rival Ursuline on the road Monday night at 7:15.
Final statistics were not available for the Force, who are 0-4 against four of the best teams in the state. They host Ursuline on Thursday at 3:45 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.