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Saint Mark’s volleyball sweeps Newark Charter, advances to third straight DIAA championship match: Photo gallery

Nicole Dimiris swings for Saint Mark's. The senior had a strong all-around match. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

MILLTOWN — Newark Charter was able to take small leads in each of the three sets against Saint Mark’s in the teams’ DIAA volleyball semifinal-round matchup on Nov. 11, but the top-seeded Spartans had just too many weapons for the Patriots. The defending champions swept their way into a third straight state championship match with a 3-0 win on their home court.

Set scores were 25-14, 25-15, and 25-22. It was the furthest the fifth-seeded Patriots had ever gone in the state tournament.

Emily Turner opened the match with a block, giving Newark Charter a quick lead, and her kill a few minutes later increased the lead to two at 3-1. But, in a set of runs for Saint Mark’s, that lead did not last long.

The Spartans took the lead with a 4-0 run, with a Katie Sonchen ace mixed in with a few Patriots unforced errors. They put the set out of reach with Faith Dowling behind the service line just a short time later. Brooke Dow began the decisive nine-point run with a kill, followed by Dowling’s first ace and a smash by Mya Lewis, who was just getting started.

Lewis crushed another kill a few points later, followed by a second ace from Dowling, prompting a Newark Charter timeout. Dow scored on a tip after the break before Sara Shuts picked up a kill for the Patriots, but by that time, Saint Mark’s led, 14-6. The lead grew to 13, although the Patriots were able to get a little closer with a four-point streak of their own, before Sarah Hessler ended it with an attack off the Newark Charter wall.

Angela Steinkrauss had two kills, and Gillian Burrows added an ace, as Newark Charter got out to an 8-4 lead in the second set. But Saint Mark’s answered by scoring nine of the next 11 points, a run that showcased their depth. That stretch included two straight monster kills from Julia Yurkovich, a few blocks from Nicole Dimiris, and a kill for Ava Borcky.

A service error brought the Patriots back to within two at 13-11, but again the Spartans caught some momentum. This time, they put up six straight points, with Yurkovich and Dimiris providing the firepower during that streak. Lewis closed out the second by going straight down on one of her kills.

The final set followed a different arc than the first two. Newark Charter hung close throughout, at least raising the possibility that a fourth set would be necessary. The Spartans ran out to a 7-3 advantage, only to watch their opponents rally to tie, thanks in part to a blast by Aubrey Celeste and a block by Shuts.

That seemed to spark Newark Charter, which took a 12-9 lead on three consecutive Steinkrauss kills. But any momentum the Patriots had disappeared while the Spartans ran off seven straight of their own. Yurkovich scored twice on powerful swings during that run, and Dow added an ace. The Spartans’ lead was 16-12.

Three times in the latter stage of the third set, the Spartans had a five-point lead, and they stretched it to six at 22-16 on an ace from Angelina Mendez, but each time, the Patriots responded. Down six, Newark Charter bounced back.

Shuts redirected a set for a point, and Steinkrauss followed with a successful cross. The Spartans then committed two errors and a net violation, and their lead was down to one. Newark Charter, however, committed two errors of their own, with the match ending when a kill attempt landed beyond the end line.

Yurkovich had 15 kills for the Spartans, while Lewis had nine to go along with 12 digs and 16 assists. Dimiris had five blocks. Saint Mark’s improved to 17-0 and will meet Padua for the state championship Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware. It will be the third straight year the Spartans and Pandas will duke it out for the title, with each team winning once.

No statistics were available early Friday morning for Newark Charter. The Patriots finished the season 14-4.

All photos by Mike Lang.