Pandas struggle at times in victory

Pandas struggle at times in victory

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Pandas struggle at times in victory

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WILMINGTON

WILMINGTON

A mark of a great team is being able to win when things aren’t going your way.

Padua displayed that trait Tuesday night, struggling much of the way but managing to sweep Smyrna 3-0 in the quarterfinals of the DIAA Volleyball Tournament at St. Elizabeth. The game scores were 25-16, 25-21 and 25-23.

“Tonight was a little bit rough, but we came together as a team,” said Jennifer Borio, who led the Pandas with 14 kills. “We kept pushing each other forward, our coaches kept encouraging us and we finished the match. That’s all that is important at the end of the day.”

Top-seeded Padua (17-0), the defending state champion, will meet fourth-seeded St. Mark’s in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Mark’s. No. 9 Smyrna finished its season at 13-4.

The Pandas sailed through the first game, but fell into a 10-3 hole to start the second game. Smyrna middle hitters Morgan Popovich (13 kills) and Raven Luckett (12 kills) gave Padua fits at times.

“We knew their middles were going to be strong, and they were,” Borio said.

The Eagles kept pushing to a 16-8 lead, only to see the Pandas score 12 of the next 14 points. Padua finished the game with four straight points, including two kills by Stephanie Annone.

The third game was close all the way before Borio broke a 21-21 tie with three straight kills. Vanessa Crumety’s kill finished the match for the Pandas.

“I just thought it was time to end it,” Borio said. “We had to step up and finish the match.”

Smyrna coach Daniel Wandless was happy with his team’s effort, not only Tuesday but all season.

“This is the best we’ve ever done,” Wandless said. “We beat our conference opponent [Caesar Rodney] for the first time, we made it past the first round of the state tournament for the first time. There are so many positives to take away from this season.”

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