WILMINGTON — Cape Henlopen made the trip north on Sept. 12 for a big-time volleyball battle at Ursuline, and in the first set, the Vikings showed they are not to be overlooked. They stunned the Raiders with a spectacular service game, but Ursuline captured the momentum with a 10-0 run in the second, sweeping the final three sets for a 3-1 victory.
Set scores were 22-25, 25-15, 25-21, and 25-15.
The match turned in the second set. Cape had fought back from a three-point deficit to tie the set at 11, but Ursuline took the lead back on a hitting error. Raiders coach Jen Johnson inserted Hayley Timmons in to serve, and the freshman showed nerves of steel — and an effective serve — over the next few minutes.
Timmons picked up an assist on a kill by Ava Panunto, then she drilled an ace to increase the Raiders’ lead to 14-11. Nina Piretti scored on a tip kill before Timmons scored on another ace. After a Vikings timeout, Ursuline scored on a hitting error, and Timmons added consecutive aces, sending the Raiders’ student section into a frenzy.
The lead reached 21-11 before Cape was able to stop the bleeding when a Raiders block landed out of bounds. Panunto won the set and tied the match with a smash down the middle.
The teams played an even third for a while. The Raiders scored eight of nine after falling behind, 2-0, with Faith Kleitz and Panunto leading the way. Ursuline increased a 9-5 lead to 12-5, and Cape coach Tyler Coupe called a timeout. With Ava Calciano on serve, the Vikings fought back. They went on a 6-0 run that included two kills from Kalista Lawson, who had an outstanding night, and eventually pulled even at 14.
Faith Kleitz untied it with a kill, then took over the serve. She delivered an ace, and Piretti crushed a ball straight down. Kleitz added another ace, and it was 18-14. Sarah Villaverde added three consecutive aces as the Raiders’ lead grew. Cape Henlopen made it close, saving three set points, including a perfectly placed cross to the corner by Kayleigh Mault, but the set ended on a service error.
The fourth set was tied, 6-6, before Ursuline pulled away with six straight. A service error got the Raiders started, but they added their trademark defense and the hitting of Panunto, Kleitz and Hannah Kelley, along with a big block from Cece DeCaro.
Cape saved two match points, but Kleitz ended the affair after a long rally with a two-handed cross that tucked inside the sideline.
Kelley had 14 kills, three aces and three blocks for the Raiders. Kleitz added 10 kills and five aces. Timmons had seven aces, and Villaverde added five as the Raiders finished with 21 aces. Ursuline (2-0) travels to Indian River for a Saturday matinee that begins at 12:45.
For the Vikings, Lawson finished with a match-leading 16 kills, along with 15 digs. Harlee Graulich had four aces and 14 digs, and Ava Calciano added three aces. The Vikings served up 12 aces on the night and were particularly effective in the first set. They fell to 1-1 and visit Sussex Tech on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.
All photos by Nick Halliday.