Two-thirds of the field has been eliminated, and eight teams remain in the hunt for the state championship. The DIAA tournament resumes Thursday with four quarterfinal matches, which for the first time in memory in a non-covid year will be played at home sites.
No. 5 Padua at No. 4 Ursuline: The longtime rivals likely looked at the bracket when it was released and wished they could have been just about anywhere else for the quarterfinals. The Raiders defeated the Pandas twice this season, but Padua knows its archrival as well as anyone, and a three-peat is no easy task. Get your tickets early for this one; Laffey-McHugh Gymnasium should be packed and rocking.
No. 9 Tower Hill at No. 1 Saint Mark’s: The only game not featuring the highest seed possible is this one, as the Hillers “upset” eighth-seeded Middletown over the weekend. Tower’s athletic hitters have caused fits for opponents all season. They’ll test the Spartans’ defense, both up front and in the back. Expect large and loud student sections from both schools in this rematch of the 2022 state championship.
No. 7 Newark Charter at No. 2 Smyrna: Smyrna lost just nine sets all season and none since an Oct. 17 match at Dover. The Eagles play a lineup of almost all seniors, which will be a contrast with the Patriots. Newark Charter has recovered nicely from a midseason swoon when they lost three straight and is on an eight-match winning streak. As far as the Baseline can tell, this will be the first-ever match between the two programs.
No. 6 Wilmington Charter at No. 3 Caesar Rodney: Between these two programs, all seven losses have come to teams still alive in the postseason, and five of those went five sets. Charter has one of the state’s best setters delivering to some elite hitters, while the Riders have a pair of hitters who have just overpowered opponents this year. CR is back in the quarters for the second straight season, while the Force is back for the first time since 2020. During that season, the Force defeated the Riders in the second round, which is the last time they met.
The semifinals will be at the Bob Carpenter Center on Nov. 13, with the first match at 6 p.m., and the finals are at the Bob on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the quarterfinals will be available at gofan.co/app/school/DIAA.
The top 10, listed below, is not the same as the seeding for the tournament.
No. 1 Saint Mark’s (No. 1 seed)
No. 2 Smyrna (No. 2 seed)
No. 3 Ursuline (No. 4 seed)
No. 4 Tower Hill (No. 9 seed)
No. 5 Padua (No. 5 seed)
No. 6 Caesar Rodney (No. 3 seed)
No. 7 Newark Charter (No. 7 seed)
No. 8 Wilmington Charter (No. 6 seed)
No. 9 Dover (No. 10 seed) fought back from a 2-0 deficit to take Newark Charter to five sets in the second round. Quietly, the Senators have become one of the better programs south of the canal.
No. 10 Archmere (No. 14 seed) needed five sets to get past Caravel in the first round, then fell at Caesar Rodney in the second in four. The Auks will need to replace several seniors at key positions, but they always field a good team.
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