WILMINGTON — Padua overcame a stiff challenge from Tower Hill in the first set of their volleyball match Oct. 19, then proceeded to complete the sweep of the Hillers. Set scores were 25-20, 25-18, and 25-14.
The Hillers opened up an early 5-2 lead, but the Pandas fought back to forge a tie at 5 after three consecutive unforced Tower errors. Molly Pietlock stopped the bleeding for the Hillers, putting them back on top with a kill, and a three-point run a bit later on — two Padua errors sandwiched around an ace from Maggie Newswanger — gave Tower Hill its largest lead of the afternoon at 12-7.
The Hillers were up, 14-11, after a net violation on the Pandas, but Padua roared back after that. Meghan Peters opened a six-point run with a smash, followed by one from Mary Mancini and a cross by Peyton Sullivan that tied the score. The Pandas took the lead on a violation, and Sullivan and Mancini added kills before Katherine Niu scored for the Hillers with a kill off the end line.
Another run, this one lasting five points, gave the Pandas a 23-17 lead, and after the Hillers saved two set points, the first ended on a service error.
Peters began the second set by sending a shot off the Tower block, but the early going of the second was dominated by unforced errors. A free ball dump by Chloe Sachs found the floor and pulled Tower Hill to within two at 8-6, but Padua used a smash by Morgan Bond, another ace from Quinn, a Peters kill, and a dink from Olivia Staats to go up by six.
The Pandas kept the lead at a comfortable level throughout the rest of the set. Bond and Sullivan did much of the damage, while Tower’s best weapons were Sacks and Kayla Whitfield. Cameron Haskins had a block late to pull the Hillers to within 22-18, but that was their last point. A Peters tip and an ace from Audrey Lyons pushed it to set point, and it ended when the Hillers committed an attack error.
The third set had the largest margin of victory for Padua, but it was the closest at the outset. Pietlock scored on a cross to begin it, giving the Hillers their first lead since the middle of the first set. Her ace a few minutes later tied the score at 6, but a smash by Bond put the Pandas on top to stay. They enjoyed runs of four and six points — the second one gave them a 22-13 advantage — with contributions coming from a number of players. The 6-0 run included a Sullivan block followed by a Sullivan kill, then consecutive aces by Peters.
A service winner sent it to match point, and Staats ended the night with her final kill.
Peters paced the Pandas with 14 kills, and Sullivan added nine. Quinn led the way with 19 digs. Padua (9-2) plays the third of four straight home matches on Thursday against Wilmington Friends at 6:15 p.m.
Final statistics for the Hillers were not available late Tuesday night. They fell to 7-4 and travel to Middletown to meet St. Andrew’s on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.