Home Local Sports Padua’s strong service game key in volleyball upset of Caravel: Photo gallery

Padua’s strong service game key in volleyball upset of Caravel: Photo gallery

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Libby Neiburg takes a swing for the Pandas. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — Padua volleyball entered Thursday night’s match against Caravel coming off a five-set loss against Wilmington Charter. The Buccaneers also played five sets on Tuesday, defeating previously unbeaten Smyrna to move to 6-2.

The teams needed just three sets on Thursday, with Padua pulling the mild upset. Set scores were 27-25, 25-17, and 25-20.

A 5-0 run early on staked the Pandas to an 8-3 lead. The final two points of that streak came on aces from Mandy Quinn, foreshadowing a key part of the evening. Padua stymied the Buccaneers all night with a strong service game, including later on in the opening set.

Caravel stormed back, with hitters Katie Greenplate and Laila Glover leading the way. Greenplate tied it at 11 with an ace, and the teams went back and forth for a bit. Caravel turned a 20-19 advantage into set point at 24-19, but the Pandas were not ready to concede.

Mancini began the comeback with a cross-court smash, which was followed by two hitting errors. The Pandas forced a tie, and a service winner gave Padua its first set point. Brooke Holdsworth tied it with a kill, but a service error on Caravel gave the Pandas their second set point, and Kaitlyn Leberstien smashed an overpass to end the first.

Glover warmed up early in the second, helping the Bucs to a 4-1 lead. The Pandas tied the score on a service winner by Leberstien, but Caravel answered immediately with another kill. The teams cranked up the defense, with liberos sprawling all over the floor and the blockers doing their thing at the net, and the teams remained close.

A Glover kill gave Caravel a 14-11 advantage as the Bucs looked to equalize the match. But the Pandas responded, with Mancini delivering consecutive aces that gave her team a 15-14 lead. The run reached seven on another Mancini ace, sending the lead to 18-11. Leberstien’s excellent serves, along with Yatavelli’s attacks, helped keep the Bucs at bar, and Mancini finished the set with a smash down the middle.

A 7-1 run in the middle of the third set put the Pandas ahead, 15-8. The team relied on its service game more than in any other match this season, and they got defense from all six positions. The Pandas held off all comeback attempts by the Buccaneers, never letting the lead go below four points.

On match point, Mancini swung her left arm, with her kill attempt going off two Caravel players before sailing over the end line. The Pandas celebrated the win and not having to go five sets.

Mancini had 12 kills and three aces, while Yatavelli went for 11 kills. Leberstien had an all-around good night with four aces, a bloc,, 10 digs and 15 assists. The Pandas improved to 3-4 and play their next five on the road, beginning Tuesday at Garnet Valley (Pa.).

Final statistics were not available late Thursday night for the Bucs. Caravel (6-3) is home against Archmere on Tuesday at 6:15 p.m.

All photos by Mike Lang.