WILMINGTON — The Padua volleyball team returned to its winning ways on Sept. 25, sweeping a quality Smyrna squad in fairly convincing fashion. The set scores were 25-13, 25-13, and 25-14.
The Eagles entered the contest with a 5-0 record, including a four-set win at Archmere and, most recently, a sweep of Henlopen Conference North foe Cape Henlopen. They stayed close with the Pandas in the early going of each set, holding leads in the first two, but each time Padua rebounded and pulled away.
Smyrna led, 7-4, in the first, and took its last lead at 9-8 on a Pandas service error. But the Pandas scored six straight and nine of the next 10 to take control. Meghan Peters tied the game at 9 with a blast, and Mandy Quinn delivered three aces during the six-point run.
The Pandas got some big hits from Mary Mancini and Cassidy Jester as the set moved on. The Eagles saved two set points. Morgan Bond ended the set by knocking down a Smyrna overpass.
A smash by Anna Richardson staked the Eagles to a 6-4 lead in the second, but that would be the last Smyrna offense for a bit. Again, the Pandas went on a run, this time for 10 consecutive points that put them ahead, 14-6. They took advantage of some Eagles errors, and Bond added a straight-down bomb. Richardson ended the run with a tip over the block, but the hill was too steep for the Eagles. Gianna Romano had a few kills for Smyrna over the second half of the set, but Peters brought it to an end with a blast.
The Pandas apparently had no interest in extra sets on the sunny afternoon. Romano’s kill put Smyrna ahead, 3-2, but the tide changed early on. An eight-point streak that included an ace for Olivia Staats and several Pandas kill attempts knocked wide, helped Padua gain some separation.
Padua’s service game played a big part in the final minutes of the match. Kira Hearn, Jester and Quinn all served up aces down the stretch. Another Staats ace and a block by Bond send it to match point, but the Eagles saved three, two on Karalyn Osborne kills and the other an ace for Mia Schultz. Jester brought the day to an end with an emphatic blast that bounced into the stands.
Final statistics were not available late Saturday night. Padua (4-1) host Paul VI (N.J.) on Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. Smyrna (5-1) also plays Tuesday at 5:15 when they host Indian River.
All photos by Mike Lang.