VIDEO: Ursuline eliminates top seed St. Mark's in five sets
Ursuline Academy avenged a pair of regular season losses, eliminating the top seed and previously undefeated St. Mark's in five hard-fought sets Thursday night.
After St. Mark's controlled the must-win 4th set, only trailing briefly at 6-5 before winning 25-22, Ursuline dominated the deciding short set.
St. Mark's Claudia Seemans opened the race to 15 with an ace, but then Ursuline took the next 6 points, including blocks by Brenna Williams and Caroline Francois, while getting a pair of kills from Mary Abram, including one after one of Taylor Hollingsworth's 59 digs.
That combination would pull through again on match point, sending Ursuline back to the title match where they will face Padua Monday at the Bob Carpenter Center at 6pm.
The match rarely came easy to the 4th seeds, as St. Mark's held a working margin of 2-4 points throughout the first set, until finally tying the match at 22. The teams would trade points until 24-24, when Brenna Williams tipped an overpass by the Spartans home for a kill, and then a hitting error by the top seeds gave Ursuline the one set advantage.
The second set would start just the opposite, with Ursuline jumping out a 3 point lead, before a 9-3 run by the hosts put St. Mark's in control. Soon after there was another 7-3 run spearheaded by an Abbie Mirabella ace, and the Spartans took the second set 25-17.
Ursuline primarily played from the lead in the 3rd set, confusing the aggressive offense of the Spartans to the tune of 131 combined digs. St. Mark's would get the set knotted at 20, but once again a pair of Ursuline blocks, this time by junior Stephanie Drake, ultimately led to a set-point kill by Brenna Williams, and a 2-1 lead for the Raiders, which helped lead to the dramatic win.
St. Mark's had defeated Ursuline 3 sets to 1 twice during the regular season, but could not quite figure out the Raiders defense, knocking them back to 15-1. Talley lead St. Mark's with 31 kills, while Mirabella added 30.
Besides Hollingsworth's 59 digs, Mary Leneweaver added 35 digs and 10 kills, while Mary Abram chipped in with 26 kills and 24 digs.
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