BEAR – Tatnall and Caravel had the Delaware high school volleyball scene to themselves on Wednesday night, and the teams did not disappoint. Tatnall fell behind, two sets to one, and fought off four match points in the fourth before rallying in the fifth for a 3-2 win on the road. Set scores in the marathon matchup were 21-25, 25-18, 19-25, 28-26 and 15-11.
The tiebreaking fifth set began inauspiciously for the Hornets, who fell behind on a service error. But they recovered, scoring seven of the next nine points to go ahead, 7-3. That run included a block by Katie Marvin and a soft kill by Lindsay Moyer, who finished with 13 kills.
Tatnall could not hold the four-point lead, however, and Caravel tied it at 10 with a three-point run that ended with one of Kody Dillon's match-leading 22 kills for the Buccaneers. Tatnall regained a two-point lead on an unforced error and a kill by Mackenzie Prettyman, and a few points later it was match point after another unforced error. After a Caravel timeout, Tatnall's Samantha Steblai ended the evening with an ace.
“Once we went on a run in the fourth set, once we came back from losing the third, the fifth set is exciting to go into,” said freshman Ashlin DeLucia, who led the Hornets with 19 kills.
Despite a dominating performance by Dillon, she was held to two kills in the deciding set. That, according to Moyer, was crucial for the Hornets.
“We just tried to shut her down as much as we could, and once we shut her down we started getting our streak back,” she said.
The match never would have reached the fifth set if not for a rough-and-tumble fourth game. Tatnall led by six as late as 17-11 before Caravel mounted a comeback. A 9-2 Bucs run, featuring some nice work up front by Dillon and a number of Tatnall miscues, put the Hornets in a 20-19 hole. The teams were tied at each point between 19 and 22 before Caravel used a kill from Ashlyn Anderson and an ace from Courtney Maxwell to send it to match point at 24-22.
Consecutive kills by DeLucia knotted the score, but Caravel sent it to match point twice more, only to see the Hornets stay alive. Tatnall was able to take the set when a kill attempt by Caravel was ruled to have gone over the end line untouched, although it appeared to have deflected off the fingers of a Tatnall blocker.
One of the keys during that set was the Tatnall service game, which produced five aces in the fourth. DeLucia said they saw some things they thought they could use to their advantage.
“I think we did a good job of moving them around and finding the weakness in their serve receive,” she said.
Moyer said the Hornets needed to remain calm heading into the fourth set and concentrate on what they needed to do.
“Coach (John Evans) kept us focused throughout the entire match, and we just had to bring our energy back up and play together well,” she said.
DeLucia said Tatnall does a good job of supporting each other when things aren't going their way. “When we get down, usually we're able to stay up and forget about the loss and come back and win it.”
Each of the first three sets were played fairly evenly. The teams were tied six times in the early going of set one until Tatnall went ahead, 13-9, after a four-point run. Caravel rebounded, using a 9-1 run to take a 21-18 lead, the last point coming on an ace by Dillon. Maxwell clinched the first set with a smash down the left side.
Tatnall (5-2) turned up its offense in the second. DeLucia led the way, sending balls to all sections of the court and throwing in a service winner for good measure. Moyer wrapped this one up with a service winner of her own.
But Caravel (8-3) would take the third to set up the dramatic final two. Dillon and Maxwell scored with impunity throughout the set, off blocks and straight down, along back lines and sidelines. One of Dillon's kills was pure happenstance, as she reached out with her left arm to save one ball as it sailed out of bounds. The ball bounced up over the net, in between several startled Hornets. Tatnall pulled to within four points, but a Dillon tip ended the set.
DeLucia added 19 digs for the Hornets, while Steblai had three aces and 32 digs. Prettyman had 10 kills. Tatnall is home on Friday to host St. Andrew's at 6:45 p.m.
For Caravel, Dillon had 20 digs to go with her kills. Maxwell added 10 kills, and Ashlyn Anderson played a solid overall game with six kills, four blocks and 11 digs. The Buccaneers, who saw a four-match winning streak come to an end, home on Friday at 5 p.m. against Concord.