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St. Elizabeth comes back to beat Cape Henlopen in battle of volleyball Vikings

Amanda Doherty goes airborne for this kill attempt for St. Elizabeth. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

WILMINGTON — After more than two hours of volleyball and 269 points played, St. Elizabeth found itself facing match point against visiting Cape Henlopen. A service error tied the score, giving the serve back to the Vikings and their senior leader, Amanda Doherty.

Doherty tossed the ball up and fired off an ace, giving the Vikings match point. She lined up behind the back line again and fired left. The ball handcuffed a Cape defender and fell to the floor, giving St. Elizabeth a five-set comeback win on Oct. 1 at a sweltering St. E Center. Set scores were 25-14, 18-25, 19-25, 27-25 and 16-14.

Sadie Falcone-Testardi bumps the ball for St. Elizabeth. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

“It felt amazing to close the game and just have the celebration,” Doherty said. “This is definitely going to bring our energy up for the rest of the season.”

Early in the fifth set, the Cape Henlopen Vikings had the look of a team that wanted to high-tail it out of Wilmington for the long ride back to Lewes. Rileigh Wilson opened the set with a smash, followed by a Madison Mahoney block. Throw in a St. Elizabeth hitting error, a service winner and an ace from Abbie Derrickson, and it was 5-0 Cape.

St. E’s struck back with three consecutive points of its own, the last one coming on a Cape overpass that Ashley Campbell smashed right into the floor. After that, the back-and-forth was on. Breahna Kusen went off the block to push Cape’s lead back to three. A few points later, Katie Knarr spiked one in bounds, giving Cape a 10-7 lead.

But a hitting error gave St. E’s life. Sadie Falcone-Testardi delivered an ace to make it 10-9, and a hitting error re-tied the game. Wilson ended a long rally with a kill for Cape, and Keira Walsh answered for St. Elizabeth with a shot that hit the tape, climbed over the net and fell to the floor. Cape took another two-point lead, however, on two St. E errors. Campbell punished another overpass, and a net violation tied it at 13.

Cape got to match point on a service error by St. Elizabeth, but that would be the visitors’ final point. Doherty made sure of that.

The fifth set followed a fourth that also went to extra points, indicating just how evenly matched these teams were. St. Elizabeth opened up a 5-1 lead with a run that included two kills by Diamond Wilson — one on a tap, the other a smash — and a trio of aces by Rachel Vivolo. The home Vikings were up by six on two occasions, both courtesy of Diamond Wilson kills. But Cape stuck around and finally caught up at 20-20 on a net violation. From there the teams were tied at every point between 21 and 25, with Cape fighting off two set points. A service error sent St. Elizabeth to set point for the third time, and on this occasion Reena Robinson punched a ball over both lines of defense and inside the end line for the win.

Doherty like what she saw in that fourth set. “We definitely picked the energy back up, and we knew we were going five sets.”

The ending seemed appropriate for two teams whose records might hover around .500, but whose talent is much better. The first set belonged to St. Elizabeth, who confounded Cape with an effective service game. When Doherty wasn’t smacking down kills, the aces were flowing: three from Laura Jezyk and one each from Campbell and Falcone-Testardi. Haley Grotegut ended the set by killing an overpass.

Derrickson opened with the serve in set two, and she scored on aces for the first two points. Cape used a five-point run to take a 12-6 lead, with points coming on a Rileigh Wilson kill, a team block, an ace from Angelica Kusen and a smash off the right arm of Erin Morrissey. Cape’s lead grew to as large as nine, and the final point came on a St. Elizabeth service error.

It was St. E that opened the third set with a 5-0 lead, but that one disappeared in a hurry thanks in part to a Jocelyn Leach ace and a Morrissey kill. Knarr scored on three straight kills at one point, but the set remained close until the end. St. E got to within 21-19, but Cape ran the rest of the set on four hitting errors by the home team.

Final statistics for St. Elizabeth were not available late Tuesday night. The Vikings (4-4) host Saint Mark’s on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.

For these Vikings, Breahna Kusen led the way with 10 kills, while Knarr and Rileigh Wilson had eight each. Emily Lamb had 21 digs. Cape Henlopen (3-5) is also back in action on Thursday, welcoming Sussex Central for a 5:15 p.m. start.