WILMINGTON – It was a playoff-like atmosphere in Thursday night’s late-season Catholic Conference volleyball battle between host Padua and Ursuline as the teams staged a five-set affair.
The second-ranked Pandas jumped out to a five-point lead in the decisive fifth game before holding off a late Raider surge to win the final set to earn a come from behind victory (25-23, 20-25, 25-27, 25-21, 15-12) that will help them prepare for the state tournament.
“I said that to the girls that I was kind of happy that we got to feel a game out like this and see what it was like to fight because now we’re all the way back to zero again,” Padua head coach Laura DiSabatino said. “It’s going to be anybody’s game at states, so we need to know how to play through adversity.”
The fifth set started out positively for the Pandas (13-2, 6-0 Catholic Conference) as they jumped out to a 7-2 lead over fifth-ranked Ursuline, and their lead remained at five points at 12-7 midway through the fifth
That’s when the Raiders put together a 5-1 surge to cut their deficit to 13-12, but Padua held on by scoring the final two points of the frame to take the match.
Despite the loss, Ursuline (10-4, 3-2) continued to show its game-to-game improvement, which is a positive sign for the team as the playoffs approach.
“Our goal is to get better each game, and we have been doing that,” Raider head coach Susan Heiss said. “We’re progressing. We’re still a work in progress, but we’re processing at the right rate.”
The match started off well for the Pandas as they won the first game 25-23, but Ursuline evened the match at 1-1 after it scored the final six points of the second to earn a 25-20 victory.
The Raiders took a 2-1 lead in the match after winning the third game 27-25, and Padua knew that it was in a difficult situation heading into the fourth game.
“Being down 2-1 is never an easy thing especially when … you just lost the last two games,” the Pandas’ Emily Jarome said. “Coming into the fourth game, we tried to focus on teamwork, communicating, trying to get the ball where it needs to go and putting it down and finding the spots. It’s really nice that we got that fourth game and came back and got the fifth one.”
After trailing 14-9 midway through the fourth game, Padua went on a 12-2 surge to take the lead, and the Pandas held on from there for a 25-21 victory, sending the game to the crucial fifth set.