After dropping its only conference match of the season against Charter, Concord’s volleyball team was determined not to lose another Blue Hen Flight A contest entering Wednesday night’s game against A.I. du Pont.
The Raiders’ strong hitting and passing performance paid off and Concord never allowed fourth-ranked A.I. to get too close as they swept the Tigers 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-18).
“This big conference win means a lot,” said Emily Panchak, who led the Raiders with 15 kills and five blocks. “We struggled against Charter so we knew we wanted to really come out and just beat [A.I.] as best as we could.”
In the opening game, Concord (7-2, 4-1 Flight A) jumped out to a 15-10 advantage after an ace on Lexi Portincasa’s serve. The Raiders extended the lead 21-12 on Panchak’s back-to-back deep serves, giving the 6-footer two aces. Portincasa closed out the first game when Jessica Fyock set up the nice pass for a kill. Portincasa finished with seven kills and 12 digs.
“It’s been kind of off lately,” said Portincasa, a senior captain, on Concord’s passing game. “We knew that we needed to pick that up and then our hitting was exceptionally well. That’s the best we’ve ever played.”
The Tigers (8-2, 5-2) trailed by as many as nine in the second game, after a kill at 14-5 from Concord’s Anna Spartz. A.I. du Pont cut the lead 18-15 with a few miscues from the Raiders. However, a Concord timeout settled the Raiders down and the momentum shifted back. Panchak served for the game and A.I. hit out wide to give the Raiders the 2-0 edge.
Although A.I.’s Courtney MacDonald contributed four huge kills in the third game, Panchak earned the game-winning kill to snap A.I.’s seven-match winning streak.
“I try to look at the court before I hit that way so I can see where the holes are,” said Panchak. “It’s not all about power, it’s about spotting, and I think I did that well tonight.”
The Raiders’ Abigail Dischert had six kills and 12 digs, while Catherine Mooney chipped in 16 assists. MacDonald led the Tigers with 15 kills, and Kulko added 13 digs and 18 assists.
“There were some things we had to change about our game, certain improvements and adjustments, and I think the girls really responded,” said Concord coach Ray Helie. “A.I. is well coached, they’re always strong, and they’re always a threat.”