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Wilmington Charter, Ursuline volleyball battle for four sets before Force emerges with win: Photo gallery

Ursuline's Samiah Sudler-Brooks takes a swing against Charter. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — The crowd at Ursuline Academy was treated to a spirited battle on the volleyball court involving the host Raiders and visiting Wilmington Charter, with the Force holding off Ursuline in four tense sets. The scores were 25-21, 16-25, 25-18, and 25-23.

The Force have perhaps the tallest attackers in the state, and they were on display from the opening serve. Anjali Vishwanathan began the proceedings with a kill attempt that was blocked out of bounds, and she had plenty more big swings before the night was over.

The Raiders got huge contributions from Faith Kleitz and Cecilia DeCaro in the first as they stayed within a few points of Charter. But Vishwanathan and her partners on the front line — Christina Marcin, Ava MacMurray and Emma Brown, among others — wreaked havoc. When they were not scoring with brute strength, they were tapping the ball over or redirecting it around the stellar Raiders defense.

Charter had an eight-point lead before the Raiders mounted a surge. Kleitz tapped one over the defensive wall, and DeCaro added a cross and Kate Kardash an ace during one stretch. Two Hannah Kelley blasts, followed by a winner down the middle for DeCaro, pulled the Raiders to within four at 21-17, but Sarah Nagy won a 50/50 ball to end the set.

Set two was neck-and-neck for a long period, with the teams tied from 1-1 through 9-9. Finally, the Raiders went on a 7-1 run to gain some separation, with their gymnasium getting louder after each point. Kleitz started the run with a blast, and Sarah Villaverde added and ace, while Kelley crushed one into the floor. The final point of that stretch came after a Kleitz attack was hit so hard that the dig bounced up and into an air conditioning duct, falling to the floor. Kelley ended the set with a block.

Vishwanathan led the charge in the third set as the Force spent most of the early going with a lead of two or three points. She had a block to begin the third, but she did a lot of work offensively, scoring on a cross and a tip as the lead went to 8-5.

Later on, MacMurray stuffed an overpass to put Charter on top, 19-11, and the Force fans in attendance were having a great time. But the Raiders were not done. Samiah Sudler-Davis had a kill that went off a defender before hitting the gym wall, beginning a 3-0 run. Kelley had a stuff to pull the Raiders to within 21-18, but the Force finished with the final four points: an Ursuline error, an ace from Stella Kenney, and consecutive kills from Marcin.

Kelley and Marcin traded kills to begin the fourth, but Ursuline had the better of the start of the fourth, building a lead as big as 11-5. The teams traded the next four points before Charter made its move.

Marcin’s ace pulled the Force to within five at 13-8. Vishwanathan added a tip kill. Kleitz scored on consecutive points to give the Raiders a 16-11 lead, but MacMurray crushed a ball to begin a 5-0 run for Charter. The set was tied at 18 before the Force scored four straight, the final point coming from Marcin: first a block, then a cross after a long rally and some great Ursuline defense.

Still, the night was not over. The Raiders stormed back, knotting the score at 22. But the Force took the lead on a service error, and Vishwanathan closed out the match with a bomb, followed by a stuff of an overpass.

Final statistics for the Force were not available late Tuesday night. Charter (6-4) will host MOT Charter on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.

For the Raiders, Kleitz had 13 kills, three aces and 12 digs. DeCaro also had 13 kills, while Kelley had nine. Ursuline (7-4) is off until Oct. 26, when the visit Delaware Military Academy for a 6:30 p.m. start.

All photos by Mike Lang.