Home Local Sports Smyrna defeats Saint Mark’s volleyball, snaps Spartans’ 42-match winning streak: Photo gallery

Smyrna defeats Saint Mark’s volleyball, snaps Spartans’ 42-match winning streak: Photo gallery

Smyrna's Elise Carter (2) rises to attempt to block this kill attempt by the Spartans' Julia Yurkovich. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

MILLTOWN — Carly Timblin sent her serve toward the Saint Mark’s volleyball team and watched as it deflected off a forearm and high toward the bleachers behind the Spartans’ bench. She and her teammates from Smyrna turned toward each other and celebrated after pulling off a rare feat.

Timblin’s ace marked the end of the Eagles’ sweep of Saint Mark’s on Oct. 11 on the defending state champs’ home court. It also ended a 42-match winning streak for the Spartans, who hadn’t lost since the 2019 state championship match at the Bob Carpenter Center against Padua. Their last regular-season defeat was Oct. 22, 2019, at Padua. Padua also dealt the Spartans their last home loss on Oct. 23, 2018.

Set scores on a night when Smyrna seemed firmly in control most of the match were 25-17, 25-17, and 26-24.

Eagles hitters Anna Richardson and Elise Carter were dominant during the first two sets — more on them later — and the visitors threatened to blow Saint Mark’s out of the gym with a blistering start to the third set. Carter opened with a bomb, followed by an ace from Kara Osbourne. A series of hitting errors, followed by a service winner, staked the Eagles to a 6-0 lead and led to a timeout for the Spartans, the top-ranked team in the state by Delaware Live/302Sports.

Saint Mark’s senior Julia Yurkovich finally got her team on the board with a tap kill, and she paced their comeback attempt. Ava Borcky also contributed; she delivered an ace that cut the Smyrna lead to 11-8, giving the Spartans’ student section something to get loud about.

But the Eagles, ranked third, responded with a stretch that included four big kills from Richardson and two more from Osbourne, the last of which put Smyrna in front, 21-13. The Eagles believed they had scored the next point as well, but after a conference, the officials replayed the point, and the Spartans took advantage. They reeled off five straight, four of which were the result of Eagles miscues.

After a timeout, Osbourne scored, but Borcky answered. A few points later, Saint Mark’s got to within one at 23-22 on a surprise tap by Maddi Way, but Richardson responded with a kill off the tape to reach match point. Yurkovich scored on a blast, and Jill Teal served up an ace to tie the score. But a service error gave the Eagles their second match point, and Timblin made sure it was the final one.

The ace ended a match that had been highly anticipated in the state volleyball community, and Smyrna answered the challenge. The Spartans took an early lead in the first set, but a kill by Skylar Berge put the Eagles on top, 8-7, and they would not trail again in the set.

Yurkovich crushed one to make it 12-10 Eagles, but Smyrna scored the next eight points to create some distance. Carter chipped in with two blocks during the run, and Richardson added a pair of back line kills. Mia Schultz ended the set with a misjudged hit that had enough to reach the top of the net, deflect off the tape and fall to the floor.

The Eagles never trailed in the second set. Richardson helped them to a 5-2 advantage, and Carter and Berge did most of the damage in a mid-set run that made the score 13-8. Borcky got the Spartans to within two at 17-15, but the Eagles scored 10 of the final 12 points to close it out. Carter stood out down the stretch, and she closed out the second with a block.

Richardson finished with 16 kills, while Carter had 10. Osbourne had three aces and 30 assists. Smyrna (10-1) travels to Polytech on Thursday for a 5:15 p.m. start.

The Spartans (9-1) play the next four on the road, starting on Thursday at Appoquinimink at 6:15 p.m.

All photos by Mike Lang.