(Photo Courtesy of Nick Halliday 302 Sports/DE Live Sports)
WILMINGTON — Newark Charter came into Ursuline Academy on the night of Nov. 10 and continued to show the state that they are among Delaware’s best. The Patriots took command early and weathered some rocky seas later on in a 3-1 win. Set scores were 25-17, 25-21, 21-25, and 25-23.
Newark Charter broke open a tight first set with a 6-1 stretch that put them ahead, 18-9. Offensively, all-state candidate Morgan Ritchie kept finding seams in the Raiders’ defense, while the Patriots’ back line confounded the Ursuline attack. The Raiders saved three set points before Gillian Burrows blasted one off the hands of an Ursuline defender and into the bleachers.
The Raiders tightened up the defense in the second set, which was much closer than the first. Newark Charter opened up a 11-8 lead before trading short runs with Ursuline. The Patriots burned a timeout once the Raiders got to within two points at 16-14, and the Raiders got to within a point at 21-20 on an ace by Hannah Kelley. Jordan Kelley ended a three-point run for the Patriots with an ace that sent it to set point. Ritchie clinched the set with a blast that tipped off the Raiders’ fingertips.
There was a renewed energy in Ursuline as they came out for the third set, and they raced out to a 12-6 advantage. Offensively, Avery Brown was quite aggressive, while Heyli Velasquez stood out in the libero position, keeping several points alive. Kate Kardash found a hole in the Newark Charter back line to bring the Raiders back into the match.
The Raiders kept the momentum going into the fourth, scoring the first three points. But the Patriots rebounded with the next six, much of them coming front Morgan Ritchie and Celeste. A Kardash bomb ended that run. The set remained close and was tied at 21. Celeste scored out of the break, and Ritchie scored from the back line. The Patriots weathered another comeback attempt, and Ciriaco ended it with a block.
Brown had 16 kills for the Raiders. Velasquez was stellar in the back, finishing with 37 digs. Ursuline fell to 3-3. For the Patriots, Ritchie led with 26 kills and added 14 digs, and her sister McKenna paced the team with 29 digs. Newark Charter won its sixth straight to improve to 6-1.
Jason Winchell 302 Sports/DE Live Sports