The second set of Thursday night’s Catholic Conference volleyball match pitting St. Elizabeth and St. Mark’s started innocently enough. Spartans sophomore libero Grace Sawyer launched the serve, and after a long rally that featured some great defense, St. Mark’s sophomore Erin Derick scored the point with a kill.
Sawyer served again, and again and again. The Spartans would score the set’s first 13 points, with the run including two aces by Sawyer and a big smash from senior Addison Reich. The dominating set was part of the Spartans’ sweep of the Vikings, 25-20, 25-14 and 25-13.
Sawyer said during a long run like that it is important to keep one’s focus. “I just tried to serve as aggressive as I could and make sure I hit the spots I wanted to,” she said.
The Vikings, however, did not lie down after falling behind by a baker’s dozen. A kill by St. Mark’s sophomore Grace Frati made the score 15-1, but St. Elizabeth was able to cut the deficit to nine at 18-9. The Vikings scored consecutive points on blocks – the first by sophomore Alexis Lee and senior Elisa Hackendorn, the next a near-carbon copy by Lee and classmate Erin Sammler – and a Sammler kill. This time, it was the Spartans who called time.
St. Mark’s stopped the comeback, and the set ended the way it began, with another kill by Derick.
There was little drama in the final set. St. Mark’s opened on a 7-1 run, then erased any doubt with a 6-0 run that increased their advantage to 15-3. The Spartans’ sweep pleased their enthusiastic supporters, including one dressed (sort of) like the pope and another dressed as Jackie Moon from the 2008 film Semi-Pro, complete with the huge 1970s afro and way-too-short shorts.
The first set was very closely contested. It was tied as late as 17-17 on a smash by Lee, but the Spartans scored the next three. They finished the set by scoring the final five points, the last two on consecutive aces by Sawyer.
Sawyer finished with nine aces. Derick led the way with nine kills and seven blocks, while Genevieve Hughes and Kara Wirt each had five kills. St. Elizabeth’s statistics were not available late Thursday.
St. Mark’s increased to 3-2 with the win. The team is off until Tuesday, when second-ranked Archmere visits for a 7:15 start. Sawyer said her team met Archmere in a preseason play day and will watch tape to see what the Auks’ tendencies are. A road trip to Ursuline awaits two days after that. St. Elizabeth fell to 3-2. The Vikings travel to Caravel on Monday for a 6:45 p.m. start.