Two-plus months of practice and game action comes to an end this week in volleyball, field hockey and soccer as the DIAA championships have arrived. Postseason play is just getting started in football, where two Catholic school teams are moving on.
No. 24 Wilmington Friends vs. No. 3 Ursuline, 5:30 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center. Volleyball is the only DIAA sport to sponsor a consolation match, and this one features the last team to earn a spot against the Raiders. Friends played four five-set matches, pulling off three upsets before falling in the semis. That will not be the case Monday, as the match is a best of three. The Raiders swept the Quakers on Sept. 24.
No. 4 Padua vs. No. 2 Saint Mark’s, 6:30 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center. The two rivals will close out the volleyball season at the University of Delaware, and one of them will take a trophy home with them. The Pandas and Spartans split two matches this year, with each team winning on its home court. In the postseason, the Spartans have registered three sweeps, while Padua has gone the maximum five sets in all three of its matches. The energy level will be high in the Carpenter Center, and a long night of volleyball is not out of the question. One team will end a championship drought Monday night.
No. 6 Dover (10-4-2) vs. No. 3 Padua (13-3), 4 p.m. at Delaware Military Academy. The Pandas continue their quest for the Division I state title in the semifinal round of the DIAA tournament against the Senators. The teams did not meet during the regular season, but they played several common opponents. Padua will not score a whole bunch, but the Pandas give up very few opportunities. Dover needed overtime to sneak past Concord in the quarterfinals, but the Senators can play with any team in the state coming out of the powerful Henlopen North Conference. The winner moves on to the state championship game on Saturday at Sussex Academy in Georgetown at 11:30 a.m. against either Cape Henlopen or Polytech.
No. 4 Wilmington Charter (12-4) vs. No. 1 Salesianum (15-1), 6 p.m. at Dover High School. The Sals continue their quest to repeat (again) as Division I state champions. To do so, they will first need to get by the Force, who earned their trip to the semifinals with a 1-0 overtime win against Polytech over the weekend. Sallies defeated Charter, 4-0, on Oct. 22, holding the Force to two shots. Four different players scored for the Sals. The winner will battle the winner of Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney for the state championship on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Dover.
No. 4 Newark (13-3) vs. No. 1 Archmere (15-1), 8 p.m. at Smyrna High School. The Auks return to Smyrna, site of their quarterfinal-round win, to battle the Yellow Jackets, who have made some noise in their first season in Division II. Scoring has not been an issue for either the Auks or the Jackets, the second- and third-highest scoring teams, respectively, in Division II. This has the makings of a wide-open, entertaining showdown. The victor will travel to Dover on Saturday for a 5 p.m. matchup with either Wilmington Friends or Indian River for the title.
No. 6 Salesianum (6-4) at No. 3 Smyrna (8-2), 7 p.m. This is a rematch of a Sept. 27 meeting between the Sals and the Eagles, a game won by Smyrna, 18-10. The began a stretch of four losses in five games for Salesianum, which defeated Saint Mark’s on Friday and picked up a few bonus points to secure the final spot in the Division I tournament. The Eagles are riding an eight-game winning streak.
No. 5 Archmere (8-2) vs. No. 4 Howard (9-1), 7 p.m. at Caravel Academy. The Auks are back in the Division II tournament for the second consecutive year, and they will face one of the more explosive offenses in the postseason. The Wildcats scored at least 30 points in each of their nine wins, and their only loss came to undefeated Hodgson. Archmere excelled this season after having to replace several skill-position players, and they will face a stiff test in the first round.