Padua won its DIAA Volleyball State Tournament semifinal by getting in the way Thursday night.
The Pandas put up an ever-shifting wall against Concord, earning 15 blocks on the way to a 3-0 victory at St. Mark's. The game scores were 25-12, 25-22 and 25-15.
Second-seeded Padua (16-2) will play for its first state volleyball championship at 6 p.m. Monday at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center. The opponent will be Ursuline, which upset top-seeded St. Mark's in the second semifinal.
"We had a strong block, but they had really good hitters," said Padua's Jennifer Borio, who finished with four blocks and 13 kills. "They got a lot through us, but I think we did a pretty good job against them."
When the Raiders got one through, Lauren Summa often was there to keep it in play. The senior libero had 17 digs.
"We knew they had a huge front line, and they're a great team," Summa said. "We knew we had to come out here and play our 'A' game, and we did it."
After an even start, the Pandas took control in the first game with a 6-0 run to take a 10-5 lead. Padua later won 10 of the last 11 points to put it away.
The second game was tighter, as Concord built a 13-10 lead. Padua rallied to pull within 19-18, then scored five straight. A quick tap by Erica Engler (three kills, five blocks) finished the game.
"We struggle with the second game all the time," Summa said. "Part of our goal was to come out in that second game and get the upper hand."
The third game was back and forth until Padua began to see the finish line with a 15-12 lead. Borio cranked out four kills as the Pandas won 10 of the last 13 points to earn a trip to the title match.
"We definitely have our eyes on the prize," Borio said. "This is exciting for all of us. ... We'll definitely be ready to play."
The sixth-seeded Raiders (15-3) got eight kills, four blocks and five digs from Paige Thommes, nine blocks and three digs from Abbie Dischert, five kills and five blocks from Emily Panchak and 13 digs from Caleigh Bart.
"They came out really strong and didn't make many errors, so that put a lot of pressure on our team," Concord coach Ray Helie said of Padua. "We didn't execute as well as we hoped to at times."
Now Padua will try to break the St. Mark's-Ursuline stranglehold on the state title. The two schools have combined to win the last 19 titles.
"It would be great," Padua coach Lauren DiSabatino said. "That was the goal at the beginning of the season, and we've made it this far."