MILLTOWN — Newark Charter’s volleyball team played a near-flawless first set, dealing Saint Mark’s its first lost set of the season, but the Spartans adjusted and took the next three from the Patriots for a 3-1 victory on Oct. 8. Set scores were 20-25, 25-22, 25-19, and 25-20.
Julia Yurkovich stepped up early for the Spartans, asserting herself with three big kills and an ace as her team built a 10-4 lead, with Malani Maycole providing the final point of that start with a block. But the Patriots were just getting started.
The Saint Mark’s lead was 11-7 after a Patriots service error, but Newark Charter regained the serve on a big kill from Sara Shuts that was made possible by some outstanding defense by her teammates. Consecutive kills by Lila Seiler, aided by several quality digs by the Patriots, were quickly followed by a pair of aces by McKenna Ritchie. By the time Saint Mark’s was able to get Ritchie off the serve, Newark Charter had scored nine straight and held a 16-11 lead.
Two uncharacteristic unforced errors from the Patriots brought the Spartans to within two at 17-15, and they also trailed by a pair, 21-19, after two straight Ava Borcky kills. But a smash from Ava Ciriaco kick-started a final push, and Seiler ended the set with a monster swing.
Four points in a five-point stretch by Yurkovich, including another ace, helped stake Saint Mark’s to a 12-5 lead in the second set, but the Patriots responded again. Seiler and Harini Atluri, along with their stellar defense, brought them back to within a point at 14-13. But a mini-run of four points, with two more after a Seiler smash, helped salt away the set.
Borcky wrapped up the set by going down the middle with a kill. She scored two of the Spartans’ final three points of the second.
Yurkovich came out swinging in the third, but her big kills were matched by Jordan Williams and Kennedy Pavlekovich. The Patriots scored three straight, the last one a push deep into the corner by Shuts, to go ahead, 18-15, but the tenor of the match changed after a Spartans timeout. Borcky scored on a cross out of the timeout, kicking off a 7-0 run that gave Saint Mark’s a 22-18 advantage. They ended the set on a 10-1 streak, punctuated by a smash from Yurkovich.
Borcky had a big day, and her kill early in the fourth gave the Spartans a 7-6 lead that they would not relinquish. The set, and the match, were punctuated by outstanding defense, including on the next point, which Saint Mark’s won on a hitting error after several spectacular digs from both teams.
Saint Mark’s ran off four straight to build a 16-10 lead, with a Yurkovich tap prompting a Patriots timeout. Newark Charter elicited thoughts of that long first-set run with a 4-0 run that brought them within 19-17, but after a timeout, the Spartans went to work closing it out.
Borcky scored on a kill, getting Ritchie off the serve. Borcky then served up an ace, and Yurkovich went straight down on a kill to make it 22-17. She had two more kills before the match ended on a hitting error.
Yurkovich finished with 23 kills and three aces to lead the Spartans. Borcky added 15 kills, and Lauren Mehelas had six blocks. Taylor Holly ended with 45 digs. Saint Mark’s (9-0) remains home for their next match on Tuesday against Smyrna at 7:15 p.m.
The Patriots suffered their first loss of the season and fell to 8-1. They visit Delaware Military Academy on Tuesday at 5:15 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.