Home Local Sports Saint Mark’s prevails over Ursuline in battle of volleyball unbeatens: Photo gallery

Saint Mark’s prevails over Ursuline in battle of volleyball unbeatens: Photo gallery

Faith Dowling serves for Saint Mark's. The Spartans moved to 6-0 with the victory. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

MILLTOWN — Three high school volleyball teams remained undefeated going into play on Sept. 28, and two of them met at Saint Mark’s. When it was over, the homestanding Spartans had taken care of business against rival Ursuline in straight sets. Scores were 25-14, 25-13, and 25-19.

There was a lot of energy in the gymnasium, and the large Saint Mark’s student section only turned up the tempo as their Spartans jumped out to a 7-2 lead. After the Raiders cut two points off of that, the Spartans opened it up with a four-point run that concluded with an ace from Faith Dowling.

Saint Mark’s put the first set out of reach with a 6-1 run later on that increased their advantage to 12 points. Junior Julia Yurkovich put on a powerful display, scoring three of those six points on massive kills. Brooke Dow added an ace. The set ended on an unforced error.

The Spartans’ front line was on display early in the second as the team went on a seven-point streak to open up a 10-3 lead. Dow was particularly effective, crushing two Raiders overpasses, and Mya Lewis added a block. Ursuline responded after a timeout, with Katherine Kardash going down the middle for a kill, but their deficit gradually grew. Katie Sonchen helped seal the deal in the second set with three consecutive service aces toward the end.

The Raiders opened the third set on a 3-0 run, scoring on two Saint Mark’s hitting errors and a kill from Cecilia Decaro. The Spartans responded by forging a tie, but the Raiders maintained a small lead for part of the set, thanks in part to Hannah Kelley, who picked up a kill down the middle of the floor, and Sarah Villaverde, who served up consecutive aces. Kills from Faith Kleitz gave Ursuline its final two leads, at 7-6 and 8-7, before the Spartans made their push.

Lewis began a 10-1 stretch for Saint Mark’s by smashing a ball off the Ursuline block. The lead grew to 19-10, but the Raiders were not ready to concede. Decaro crushed a ball, and Kelley and Samiah Sudler-Brooks went back-to-back on blocks. After an ace from Ava Panunto, the deficit was down to five.

But Yurkovich scored three of the Spartans’ final six points – one on a soft push to the end line, one down the left side, and, for her final kill, a straight-down bomb, before a hitting error ended the match.

Yurkovich led the Spartans with 17 kills, while Dow had six, along with four aces. Sonchen had three aces. Saint Mark’s (6-0) hosts St. Elizabeth on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.

Final statistics were not available for Ursuline late Thursday night. The Raiders (5-1) host Padua on Thursday at 7 p.m.

All photos by Mike Lang.