Home Local Sports Ursuline upsets Red Lion, advances to DIAA volleyball quarterfinals: Photo gallery

Ursuline upsets Red Lion, advances to DIAA volleyball quarterfinals: Photo gallery

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The Raiders' Faith Kleitz sees open space on her left. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

RED LION — Red Lion had battled back to tie Ursuline at a set each in the teams’ second-round matchup Nov. 5 in the DIAA state volleyball tournament, and in the third set, the homestanding Lions had overcome a five-point deficit to take a 20-17 lead in the third when Peyton Pusey sent a left-handed bomb off the Raiders’ wall.

The Raiders, seeded 14th in the 24-team field, rebounded to take that third set, then pulled away in the fourth to advance to the quarterfinal round with a 3-1 upset win over No. 3 Red Lion. Set scores were 25-22, 16-25, 25-23, and 25-17.

A pair of unforced errors put Ursuline ahead, 15-10, in the third, but the Red Lions went on a 9-1 run to take a 19-16 lead. After a few Raiders miscues, the Lions earned the final four points of that streak on a kill from Eliza Schneider, a stuff from Carly Morea, and consecutive Pusey blasts.

The Raiders regained the serve, and a few points later, Kate Kardash put them back on top, 22-21, on a kill. The teams traded errors before Pusey served up an ace to tie the score at 23. But Samiah Sudler-Brooks stepped up for Ursuline, sending it to set point with a block, then ending the third with a stuff of an overpass.

Red Lion took a 4-3 lead in the fourth on an ace from Morea, but the Raiders built a few three-point leads. But Schneider, the talented sophomore, scored on consecutive kills to tie the score at 8, and it was tied again at 10 before the Raiders scored three straight. Hannah Kelly began that push with a tip kill, and two errors added to the Ursuline lead.

The Lions roared back to tie it again at 13 before the Raiders began their final push. A block put Ursuline on top, and this time the lead would hold. The lead grew to four before the Lions called timeout, and Schneider scored out of the break to end the Raiders’ run.

But Ava Panunto answered with a kill that ticked off the end line, and after the Lions climbed back to within three at 19-16, Faith Kleitz sent a blast off the arm of one of her opponents and out of bounds. The teams traded errors before the Raiders went on the match-ending streak.

Kardash delivered an ace, prompting another Red Lion timeout. Kelley followed with a block, and Kardash repeated her service magic with another ace that gave the Raiders match point. They only needed one, as Kelley rejected a Lions attack to send her team into the next round.

Panunto said as the Raiders adjusted to Red Lion’s style of play, they were able to defend better against Schneider after her big first set.

“Our plan was really heavy on blocking her and having a really good defense, which we do,” she said. “We were adjusting to that faster set because we haven’t played against a team that sets that fast. When we adjusted, we started getting hands on her more. Our front-line defense just did amazing at blocking.”

Kleitz said the Raiders weren’t ready to say goodbye to retiring coach Sue Heiss.

“Do it for Heiss. We don’t want it to be her last game coaching,” she said.

The Raiders and Lions puton quite a show in the first set. They were tied at every point between 5-5 and 14-14, with Schneider and Pusey throwing down punishing kills, while Kleitz and Kelley were answering for the Raiders. The Lions went ahead, 17-14, before a 4-0 run capped by Kardash’s first ace of the evening gave the Raiders an 18-17 lead.

Schneider was unstoppable in the first, scoring almost at will, with her final kill of the set putting the Lions up, 22-21. But Kleitz had consecutive kills, and after a Lions error sent it to set point, Kleitz crushed one to end it.

The second set featured several long rallies and outstanding defense, and the offense of Sloane Rudometkin and Abigail Conner helped the Lions maintain a small lead through the first two-thirds of the set.

Panunto scored to make it 18-15, but the Raiders would add just one more point the rest of the second. Rudometkin won a 50-50 ball at the net that extended the lead to five at 20-15, and a few points later, Morea tipped one over the Raiders’ wall to make it 23-16. Schneider blasted one to get to set point, and Morea tied the match at a set apiece with an attack off a Raiders defender.

Kleitz said the team wasn’t discouraged after dropping the second set because they had shown that they could play with the Lions.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen because we’ve never played them before and their schedule is very different than ours. I think it was a pretty even game. I think we fought well,” Kleitz said.

Kleitz had 12 kills to lead the Raiders, and she added 10 digs. Kelley had eight kills and seven blocks. Kardash had four aces and three blocks, and Maddie Williams had 19 digs. Ursuline (9-7) will meet the winner of No. 11 Sussex Central at No.6 Wilmington Friends on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Saint Mark’s in one quarterfinal.

For the Lions, Schneider led the way with 19 kills, while Pusey had 16 to go along with 16 digs. Adora Anthos had 24 digs, and Regan Mendick added 21. The Lions finished the season 13-3.

All photos by Mike Lang.