SMYRNA — Archmere plays one of the toughest volleyball schedules in the state every year, and things started no differently this year when the Auks traveled to Smyrna on Sept. 8. The Eagles threw several weapons at their opponent on the way to a 3-0 sweep. Set scores were 25-15, 25-19, and 25-22.
The Eagles showed early on that they were going to be a tough foe. Archmere took a 5-1 lead in the first set, helped by consecutive aces from Ella Strohmaier and a smash from Jessica Lattanzi, before Sklyar Berge took over on serve for the Eagles. An ace, combined with some miscues by the Auks and kills from Anna Richardson and Megan Carroll, resulted in 11 straight points for the Eagles and a 12-5 advantage.
The Auks fought back, cutting the lead to 14-11 on an ace from Abigail Im, but Smyrna’s attack was just too strong. Mia Schultz, Berge and Kara Osborne helped extend the lead, and the set ended on a line violation by the Auks.
The teams played evenly for half of the second set before Smyrna started to pull away. With the score knotted at 7, Schultz scored on a block, followed by a service winner. Elise Carter was then dug out of bounds for a 3-0 Eagles run. Archmere rallied to tie again, and the teams went back and forth for a few points.
With the set tied, 12-12, Smyrna pulled away by scoring seven of the next eight points. Richardson started the run by scoring off the block, and Carly Timblin followed with a pair of aces. Two points that stood out during the final half of the set both resulted in Eagles points. On one, Richardson had a kill attempt dug, but the ball came back to the net, right to Richardson, who smacked it down for the point. A few minutes later, Berge and Timblin combined to for a big save, and their effort was rewarded when Schultz picked up a point with a huge block.
The teams went toe to toe early on in the third, but the Eagles eventually took small lead. The Auks rebounded for an 11-10 advantage on a tap kill from Abby Garcia, prompting Smyrna to take a timeout. Carter, who had a fantastic night, responded out of the break with a smash to the back line to tie the score once more.
Archmere held a 14-13 lead in the third until Richardson tied it with a punishing kill. The junior continued her incredible night, but the Auks would not give in. They rebounded to tie the score at 17 on a deep kill by Katie Kuehl, then taking the lead on a hitting error. The Auks stayed close, but the match ended on a block by Carter.
Richardson led the Eagles with 13 kills and added eight digs, while Carter had nine kills and three blocks. Smyrna (1-0) travels to Sussex Academy on Sept. 13 for a 5:15 p.m. match.
Stats for the Auks were not available late Thursday. Archmere fell to 0-1 and has its home opener Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. against First State Military.
All photos by Mike Lang.