MILLTOWN — The annual volleyball matchups between Padua and Saint Mark’s are met with great anticipation, and that was the case Sept. 20, as a large crowd gathered at Saint Mark’s for the teams’ first meeting of the season. When it ended, the home fans left happy as the Spartans won in a sweep. Set scores were 25-22, 25-15, and 25-6.
The Spartans trailed the first set, 4-3, before Ava Borcky tied it with a kill. Lauren Mehelas followed with an ace, part of a 5-0 run that put Saint Mark’s up by four. The lead grew to six points at 18-12 on another Borcky smash, but the Pandas were not deterred. Their big hitter, Cassidy Jester, began a personal run of three straight points, the first coming on a tremendous kill. She then served up consecutive aces, and the Spartans’ lead had been cut in half.
A few points later, Aanya Yatavelli was on the serve for the Pandas, and she confounded the Spartans with two straight aces, bringing Padua to within one at 20-19. But Saint Mark’s came out of a timeout and got a reply from Julia Yurkovich, who ended the mini-rally with a push, and Malani Maycole followed with a block. Yurkovich ended the set in thunderous fashion, sending a spike straight down, much to the delight of the large Saint Mark’s student section.
Yurkovich dominated during the second set, helping to offset some fireworks from Jester. Bethany Neidlein wrapped up the set with a kill. Maycole threw up another block to start the final set, the first point in an 8-0 streak.
Yurkovich finished with 13 kills and 10 digs, while Maycole had six kills and four blocks. Borcky had five aces, and Maddie Way led with 29 assists. The Spartans (4-0) travel to Red Lion on Thursday at 5 p.m.
No statistics were available for Padua as of Wednesday afternoon. The Pandas (1-3) are off until Sept. 29, when they host Ursuline at 7 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.