St. Mark’s volleyball team got off to the start it wanted in this 2015 season, using a complete team effort in dismantling St. Georges Tech, 3-0, Friday afternoon in the campaign and home opener. Set scores were 25-14, 25-13, and 25-15.
The Spartans (1-0) were too strong upfront and along the back line, using their height advantage to pound kills and their skill along the back line to collect numerous points on aces and service winners. Sophomore Erin Derick said relying on all of their weapons was key, particularly after sophomore standout Gillian Lytle left the match early in the first set with a knee injury.
“That was a big shock and a wake-up call,” she said of Lytle’s departure. But the team has practiced together so as not to lean too heavily on one weapon. “We’re all good with each other. It was fairly smooth.”
The Spartans were never really in trouble on Friday, pulling away in the third set after St. Georges (0-1) evened the score at 7 on a St. Mark’s service error. The Spartans scored 11 of the next 13 points, taking an 18-9 advantage. The final two points of that run came on back-to-back aces by Derick. St. Georges rallied to score three straight, but the outcome was not in doubt.
The undersized Hawks were forced to rely too much on free hits, which St. Mark’s turned into points. St. Georges also committed several unforced errors, including a hit into the net that ended the match.
St. Mark’s opened the match on a 7-0 run before Lytle went down. They continued to stretch the advantage, leading by as many as 11 points. The first set included effective serving by Sara Desmond of St. Mark’s, who drilled two aces toward the end.
In the second set, St. Georges took a brief lead at 3-1, but St. Mark’s responded with three straight points, the last of which came on a tip over the front line by senior Addison Reich. The Hawks tied it on a tip kill by freshman Jessica Charlier, but St. Mark’s put together several mini-runs to pull away. The first set ended when senior Kara Wirt set up a Derick kill that hit the block and fell to the floor.
Derick said opening the year with a win and a strong performance is just what the team wanted. It is a new era for the green and gold.
“We wanted to go out stronger and show everybody that we are not the old St. Mark’s. We are the new St. Mark’s. We’re going to make this season the best that we can. This is a great win for us. It’s a big relief,” she said.
St. Georges’ statistics were not available Friday night. St. Mark’s served 19 aces – five each for Derick and Wirt, and four apiece for Grace Sawyer and Desmond. Wirt led the Spartans with 10 kills, while Reich added eight.
The Spartans face a stiff test on Wednesday, when they travel to Alapocas to meet Wilmington Friends at 5 p.m. The Hawks also return to action Wednesday for their home opener against Glasgow at 5:15 p.m.