MILLTOWN — Saint Mark’s and Padua added another chapter to their storied volleyball rivalry on Oct. 26, and this time, the Spartans controlled the narrative. They swept the Pandas in front of a large crowd that included a significant student section that is also getting ready for the state tournament after most spectators were kept away last year.
Set scores were 25-20, 25-16, and 25-15.
Saint Mark’s entered the contest as the top-ranked team in the state by Delaware Live/302Sports, and they came out looking like it. Julia Yurkovich opened the night with a crushing kill, and Taylor Holly added an ace on the way to a 7-1 start. Padua, ranked fourth, got back to within two, the last time at 10-8, on a Morgan Bond kill, but Saint Mark’s put the set out of reach with a 6-0 run to open up a 19-10 lead. The set ended with a blast by Mya Lewis, one of seven Spartans seniors honored before the match.
Yurkovich and the Pandas’ Meghan Peters split four kills to open the second, but the Spartans gradually stretched their lead. Another Yurkovich kill later on gave Saint Mark’s an 11-7 lead, and Sarah Hessler scored on consecutive blocks to extend that to three points. Nicole Dimiris then added her own block, and the lead was 14-7. Mya Lewis made her presence known over the last part of the set, adding her own block and a few big hits as the Spartans took it going away.
Yurkovich began the final set as she had the first, with an impressive kill. It was the beginning of a seven-point run to open the third, although the Pandas responded to that beginning with two kills from Olivia Staats sandwiched around one from Mary Mancini. The answer from the Spartans, however, was a 6-0 streak, featuring kills from three different players and two Katie Sonchen aces.
Peters got Padua to within eight at 23-15 with her final kill of the evening, but Lewis followed with a block, and the match ended on a net violation.
Yurkovich led the Spartans with 15 kills, while Lewis added eight, along with three blocks, and Dimiris had seven kills and four blocks. Saint Mark’s (13-0) ends the regular season on Saturday at 6:45 p.m. at Ursuline.
Padua was led by Peters with eight kills, and Mancini and Staats had four each. Mandy Quinn had 20 digs. The Pandas (10-4) close out the regular season at home on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. against Ursuline.
All photos by Mike Lang.