Saturday, May 25, 2024

San Diego Mojo Dominant in Win Over Omaha Supernovas – Women’s Professional Volleyball

The San Diego Mojo women’s professional volleyball team delivered a critical victory over the Omaha Supernovas in four hard-fought sets on Tuesday evening at SDSU’s Viejas Arena, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-22. The win avenged a Feb. 3 3-0 loss against the second-place Supernovas. It underscores the Mojo’s resilience, signaling a turning point in their season as they gain confidence and trust in each other on the court.

“I thought it was an amazing performance,” said coach Tayyiba Haneef-Park. The team’s upward trajectory was on full display on Tuesday. The win moves the Mojo into sixth place with a 4-7 record, including two wins in their past three matches.

Powerful Play

The team had standout performances across the board, including from Outside Hitter Kendra Dahlke, who had previously appeared in only seven sets on the season, but played in all four sets on Tuesday. “You’ve seen this from Kendra time and time again in practice, and we’ve been waiting to show it to the world,” said Haneef-Park. “We just talked a couple of days ago, and I told her how valuable she is.”

The Mojo’s Kendra Dahlke arches for one of her 17 kills on the night. Photo: Micah Cunningham

The team’s 67 kills were the result of their ability to play in system, with Libero Shara Venegas contributing an impressive 75% positive reception rate (see Volleyball Terms at the end of this article). Another factor was the depth and breadth of the attackers. Consider that the Supernovas had one attacker, Bethania De La Cruz, with 26 kills, while the players with the next highest had only six each. In contrast, the Mojo had options, and used them. Three players had 13 or more kills, including Temi Thomas-Ailara with a team-high 22, Dahlke with 17, and Valeria Papa with 13.

Temi Thomas-Ailara skies for one of her 22 kills on the night in the Mojo victory Photo: Micah Cunningham.

Scoring Overview

After dropping the first set, the Mojo regrouped. In the second set, the Mojo led 18-17 and never relinquished the lead, winning 25-21. The third set was tighter. The teams were tied at 19, 20, 21, and 22. At 22-all, the Mojo lost the next point on a kill by Supernova Paige Briggs, to go down 23-22. They remained resolute and won three straight off of kills by Dahlke, Ali Bastianelli, and Thomas-Ailara, to take the set 25-23.

The fourth set required grit and savvy substitutions. The Mojo were down by two, 20-18. Haneef-Park subbed out setter Nootsara Tomkom for attacker Morgan Lewis and attacker Thomas-Ailara for setter August Raskie. “[Our setter] is up against one of their biggest attackers, so in that moment the switch becomes, you put in a big front-row attacker for your small setter, and you put your small setter back row for your attacker,” Haneef-Park explained. “At that point, too, Temi had been having an amazing game … but giving her an opportunity just to catch her breath, because if we make it all the way around, we need her rested to have energy for some big attacks.”

The substitution worked. The Mojo won seven of the next nine points. Of those seven, Lewis had three kills and one block, the Mojo stole the set, 25-22, and the team won the match.

The San Diego Mojo celebrate their 4-set victory over the Omaha Supernovas Tues at SDSU’s Viejas Arena. Photo: Micah Cunningham.

Next Up

The Mojo play at home on Sunday, April 7 at 4 p.m. against the Columbus Fury. This is the first meeting between the teams. The final game of this home stand takes place Wednesday, April 10 at 7 p.m. against the Atlanta Vibe. Get tickets for both games here.

Who’s your favorite Mojo Player? Take the poll here! Results shared at the end of the season.

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Volleyball Terms (return to article)

Attacker. Player whose main job it is to attack and block. The attacker may play in position of Outside Hitter, Opposite, or Middle Blocker.

Libero. The player who plays only in the back row and typically runs the defense. She wears a jersey that is a different color from the rest of the team. The Libero’s main job is to receive serves, and to “dig” balls when on defense.

Setter. The player who typically makes the second contact before the ball goes over the net. The setter’s job is to get the ball to one of the attacking players. The setter must communicate with the players so that they know who is expected to hit the ball and where the “set” will go. The setter usually makes contact with two hands.

Reception. First contact after a service. In general, the reception should be passed to the team’s setter.

Positive Reception. In Real Pro Volleyball, receptions are judged on a 4-point scale. The league’s explanation of statistics states that a score of 4 is perfect, “the setter doesn’t move,” and a score of 3 is good, “The setter can set all front row players.” A positive reception rate is the sum of all receptions judged to be a 3 or 4 divided by the total number of receptions.

Hit/Attack/Spike. Typically the third contact before the ball goes over the net that the player strikes with one hand at a downward angle.

Kill. An unreturnable attack that results in a point for the attacking team.

In System. The pass goes where the setter wants it so that the setter can set to all offensive options. When a team is playing “in system” an attacker is more likely to get a “kill” than when the team is Out of System. Return to article.

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Lisa Lamb
Lisa Lamb
Lisa’s passion for sports journalism stems from her experiences playing high school sports and reading great sports journalists, especially those who write about her favorite basketball team, the San Diego State Aztecs. As a professor of mathematics education, she enjoys analyzing data to highlight the statistics that help bring the story to life. Lisa has lived in Coronado for almost 20 years with her husband and son. She loves the friendly neighborhood community and the walkable access to wonderful restaurants and parks.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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