MILLTOWN — Saint Mark’s volleyball team has played a challenging schedule this season, but their match Oct. 3 against Delaware Military Academy may have been the biggest yet. The Seahawks came in 7-0 and ranked fifth in the state by Delaware Live, and they gave the top-ranked Spartans a fight, but Saint Mark’s had too much firepower and swept the match, 3-0. Set scores were 25-18, 25-23, and 25-16.
The Saint Mark’s gymnasium was buzzing before the contest, as both schools supplied large and loud student contingents. DMA’s were dressed in black, while the Spartans’ faithful wore pink for breast cancer awareness. They kept up the noise through an eventful first set.
DMA managed a small lead through the first part of the set before a kill by Abby Catts and a tap kill from Malani Maycole tied the score at 8. It was 11-10 Spartans when they went on a 6-1 run to pull away. The run started with a kill from Julia Yurkovich, followed by Maddi Way pushing a ball out of reach to a corner. The run concluded with a back-line kill by Yurkovich, then an ace by the senior.
Delaware Military fell behind by as many as eight, and they got as close as six on a few occasions, the last time at 24-18. But Yurkovich ended the set when she smashed a cross-court winner off a Seahawks defender.
Saint Mark’s best start of any set came in the second, as they rushed to a 6-1 advantage capped by two rotation errors on DMA. But a monster kill from Mackenna Van Horn kick-started a run by the Seahawks that reached five points and ended with a Maya Hill attack that tied it at 6.
The Spartans had a 13-10 lead, but the Seahawks weren’t going away quietly. A DMA bump that fell on the Saint Mark’s side started an 8-0 streak that included a Carly Opalach cross, an ace from Emily Trzonkowski, and wrapped with another Opalach kill, extending their lead to a match-high five points.
But Saint Mark’s responded, bouncing back for a 21-19 lead with Jill Teal on serve. The Seahawks were not giving any points away; they lost one on a hitting error, but two spectacular digs on Yurkovich offerings kept the point going a few extra seconds. Way put the set on ice, surprising DMA by attacking on a second hit and finding the floor.
The third set belonged to the Spartans. Maycole had a big set, particularly in the early going, to help her team to an 11-6 advantage. She also played defense, blocking one ball off her head, although the Spartans did not get that point. Saint Mark’s went on runs of 4-0 and 6-0 to build a 22-16 lead, with Yurkovich doing some big hitting, and Teal delivering an ace as they neared the win. The Seahawks held off one match point before Yurkovich went cross court to end it.
Final statistics were not available late Monday night. The Spartans take on No. 4 Newark Charter at home on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.