When the Padua volleyball team is getting contributions from everyone, it’s going to be a short match.
The top-ranked Pandas seized the momentum early Tuesday night and overwhelmed No. 2 St. Mark’s 3-0 at home, their second sweep of the Spartans this season. The game scores were 25-18, 25-16 and 25-11.
“Everything was just working tonight,” Padua coach Lauren DiSabatino said. “Our practices have come to a point where it has all just come together.”
The Pandas (14-0) got 16 kills from Jennifer Borio, 11 kills and seven digs from Allyson Jennings, seven kills from Vanessa Crumety, six kills from Stephanie Annone, 22 assists from Sarah Cushing, 17 assists from Haley Baker, 12 digs from Sarah Wiley and five digs from Alison Frey.
“We’ve been practicing all year to gel as a team, and I think tonight we finally did it,” Jennings said.
Padua took control midway through the first game, breaking out of an 11-11 tie by scoring nine of the next 12 points. A cross-court kill by Jennings pushed the Pandas’ lead to 20-14 and charged up the capacity crowd.
The Spartans (11-2) pulled within 21-17, but Crumety and Cushing scored on blocks, and Annone finished the game with a kill.
Crumety only had one kill in the Pandas’ 3-0 win over St. Mark’s on Sept. 17 but has upped her game to give Padua another threat up front.
“Vanessa has improved greatly throughout the year,” DiSabatino said. “She’s really trying to work that net and improve us in the middle, and I’m very proud of how she has improved.”
A junior playing her first season on the varsity squad, Crumety said meshing with an experienced team has led to her improved play.
“Just adjusting to the girls’ weaknesses, how strong they are and their personalities,” Crumety said. “It’s a hard thing, not playing with them before. Some of these girls have been playing with each other for four years.”
The Pandas surged again midway through the second game, pulling away from a 10-10 tie with an 11-3 run. Borio finished the game with a blast that bounced and hit 12 feet up on the back wall of the gym.
“We knew since the season is winding down that we would have to work extra hard, because now it’s easiest to be tired and to not work as hard,” Borio said. “We tried to use that as fuel to keep going and come out even stronger.”
The Pandas led from the start in the third game, taking a 7-2 advantage on kills by Crumety and Borio. Cushing served during a run of eight straight points that made it 20-6 and had Padua fans counting down until the end.
“Whenever we play St. Mark’s, we always have great practices,” Jennings said. “They’re a great team, they always have been. But I think we just realized that it’s just another game, let’s keep the momentum on our side.”
Padua plays at Ursuline on Thursday night, its final regular-season match before the state tournament begins Nov. 2. The Pandas won their first state title last year and certainly appear to be peaking again.
“Their heart and soul was into it,” DiSabatino said. “They’re really trying to get their attitudes to the spot they want to be entering the tournament, and I think they have achieved that.”