WILMINGTON — Ursuline continued its impressive start to the high school volleyball season on Sept. 12, coming out blazing in the first set on the way to a 3-1 victory over Tower Hill. Set scores were 25-12, 22-25, 25-20, and 25-20 in front of a capacity crowd inside sweltering Carpenter Field House.
It was the first game inside at Carpenter, where the defending state champs are playing this season while renovations take place underneath their usual home, Weaver Gymnasium. But it was the Raiders, ranked sixth in the state by Delaware Live Sports, who seemed more at home in the venue, at least early on. They held a 12-6 lead in the opening set before putting it out of reach with a 9-0 run. The defense was stout; Ursuline would finish with 83 digs and 17 blocks on the evening.
That didn’t seem to faze the top-ranked Hillers, who opened the second set by scoring the first four points, the last of which came on an ace by Anna Schiltz. They continued to build their lead, getting the advantage up to nine after consecutive kills from Molly Pietlock.
A service error returned serve to the Raiders, however, and started a set-tying 9-0 run. C.C. DiCaro was on serve, and she delivered three aces during that stretch, but Tower kept its composure. Led by Pietlock, the Hillers eventually got the lead back to six at 21-15, it stayed at that margin at set point. Juliette Cummings started the Ursuline rally with a kill, and she added a block a few points later to cut the Hillers’ lead to 24-22. It was Tower Hill’s turn for a timeout, and they won the set on a hitting error.
The Raiders held on to a small lead through the early part of set three, getting kills from Claire Kelly, Caitlyn McGonigal DiCaro and Julia Terzaghi along the way. Holding a 14-12 lead, Ursuline went on a 5-1 stretch, capped by a DiCaro ace, and a six-point advantage looked pretty inviting. McGonigal clinched the set with a tap that found the floor.
The fourth set started on a good note for Ursuline. The Raiders jumped out to a 9-4 lead when Cummings ended a long rally with a shot down the left sideline. They got contributions from several players, with the defense in particular coming up big, while keeping the Hillers from getting too close.
DiCaro seemed to be on a mission in the latter stages of the fourth. The junior scored on three straight kills to push the lead to 19-12, prompting a Hillers timeout. Tower scored three straight after the break, but a DiCaro attack smacked off the tape and fell to end the mini-run. Tower Hill closed to within two on several occasions, the last time at 22-20, but Hayley Timmons served up an ace, and DiCaro finished the match with two additional kills.
DiCaro led the way with 19 kills, five aces and 12 digs. McGonigal had 12 kills, 10 digs and 18 blocks. Cummings finished with eight blocks. Ursuline (3-0) begins a four-match homestand on Sept. 18 against Camden Catholic (N.J.) at 6 p.m.
No statistics were available for Tower Hill, which fell to 1-1. The Hillers visit Sanford on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.
All photos by Jason Winchell.