CLAYMONT — Tower Hill has a very young volleyball team, and in the first set of their DIAA first-round tournament match at No. 16 Archmere on Nov. 3, the 17th-seeded Hillers looked to be getting their legs under them. They hung with the Auks until the later stages of the set before Archmere pulled away for a 25-18 win.
But as the match went on, the Hillers — who have just one senior in the regular rotation — played stronger and with more confidence, and they took the final three sets to advance to the second round on Friday night.
Set scores were 18-25, 25-21, 25-20, and 25-11.
Chloe Sachs, Tower’s do-it-all junior, opened the second set with a cross to the far right corner, beginning the Hillers’ ascent. The took advantage of Auks errors to build a 3-0 lead, but Archmere eventually tied the score at 5 on an ace from Sophia Scarpaci. The last tie was at 11-11, which was brought about by another Sachs kill. That began a three-point run for Tower Hill, and although Abby Garcia brought the Auks back to within a point at 13-12 with a kill, the Hillers pulled away.
A Hillers block began a 4-0 spurt that included an ace from Meghan Mumford and a tap kill for Kayla Whitfield. The closest the Auks could get down the stretch was three points, but that was at 24-21 on the second of consecutive aces from Hope Merritt, but a Hillers attack was blocked out of bounds to end it.
Cameron Haskins started the third set with a swing that gave Tower a 1-0 lead, but the beginning of this set was tighter than the second. It was tied 10 times by the time it was 12-12 before the Hillers gained some separation. Whitfield began a stretch of three straight Hillers points with a stuff, and Mumford followed with an ace. A kill from Katherine Niu made it 15-12, prompting an Archmere timeout.
Coming out of the break, Jessica Lattanzi scored on a tap kill, then a block, as the lead was shrunk to a single point. But Tower scored six of the final nine points of the third, with the points including a block of a Molly Pietlock attack out of bounds, a Sachs smash, and a couple of errors. Lydia Scarpaci tried to get the Auks back into in, scoring the Auks’ final three points of the set on kills, but Sachs mixed in another kill to send it to match point, and a service error gave the Hilliers the lead.
The Auks began set four with a 2-0 lead, but it was all Hillers after that. Sachs had bookend crushes in a 5-0 run that also contained an ace from Anna Schiltz, and every time they held off an Archmere rally, their confidence grew. With a large number of their schoolmates on hand, Tower had defenders in the right place all night, consistently denying Auks attackers with libero Mumford and front-liner Whitfield, among others.
On offense, Sachs led the way, but Pietlock, Niu and others contributed valuable points. Tower Hill closed out the match by scoring nine of the final 10 points, with another Whitfield stuff sending it to match point, and Niu’s attack off the Auks’ wall ending it.
Sachs had 16 kills and 16 assists, while Pietlock had 12 kills and 23 assists. Tower Hill improved to 11-5; the Hillers will travel to the top seed, Saint Mark’s, for a 6:30 p.m. start on Saturday in second-round action.
Archmere’s statistics were not available. The Auks finished the season 8-8.
All photos by Mike Lang.