WILMINGTON — Tower Hill used a 7-0 run early in the first set to create some space between themselves and Padua, and the Hillers went on to a 3-0 sweep in the volleyball season opener for both teams on Sept. 6.
Set scores were 25-20, 25-14, and 25-23.
In the first set, the Pandas held a 3-1 lead courtesy of two aces and a Hillers service error, before Tower went on its run. A Padua service error got them started, and Meghan Mumford followed with an ace and a service winner. The first point on an attack didn’t come until Lydia Spencer’s kill made it 6-3. The lead reached 8-3 before Padua’s first kill off the right hand of Aanya Yatavelli.
That began a three-point run for the Pandas, but the Hillers kept the for the rest of the set despite the Pandas getting to within one on five occasions. Defensively, Tower blanketed the floor, keeping the Pandas from finding many open spaces. The back line of Lily Leung, Maggie Newswanger and libero Meghan Mumford was particularly effective.
After Padua cut the lead to 18-17, Tower Hill ran off the next four points. Lydia Spencer sent it to set point with one of her several first-set kills, and a hitting error ended the first frame.
The Pandas used two Hillers errors to take a 2-0 lead in the second, but consecutive kills by Spencer helped start to turn the momentum. A 4-0 run in the middle of the set put the Hillers up, 14-7, until Bridget McManamon smacked one down to end that streak. The reprieve, however, was brief, as Tower continued to pull away.
The Hillers found open spaces on offense, and they got hands on just about everything the Pandas sent their way. Pietlock smashed a kill off the tape, and it fell in for the set-winning point.
Spencer knocked one down to open the third, and freshman Sydney Fischer went down the right side to stake Tower to a 2-0 lead in the third, but the Pandas would not go quietly. Libby Neiburg put Padua ahead, 3-2, with a block of Spencer. The teams traded the next 11 points before the Hillers added a second straight point to go ahead, 9-8.
The teams stayed on the seesaw. Hannah McGuigan directed a shot to her left and to the floor to tie it at 16, With the score tied at 19, the Pandas’ Bridget McManamon dropped a serve off the tape for an ace, and Neiburg powered a kill off a diving Mumford to extend the lead to two. Vanessa Mancini added a block, and the lead grew to 22-19.
The margin remained three at 23-20 when an attack by Spencer started the final Hillers run. Pietlock scored on a kill, and Spencer served up an ace. Danielle Soleye swatted down a Pandas attack to send it to match point, and a hitting error ended the night.
Spencer led the way with 17 kills, while Pietlock added 12 to go along with 11 digs and 17 assists. Tower had 10 aces. The Hillers (1-0) host Ursuline on Sept. 12 at 5:15 at the Carpenter Field House.
For the Pandas, Yatavelli had five kills and eight digs, while Nieburg added five kills and five blocks. Padua (0-1) travels to the St. E Center on Friday to meet the Vikings at 6 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.