Supernovas claw out five-set win over San Diego on Saturday

Supernovas claw out five-set win over San Diego on Saturday
(Supernovas courtesy photo)
April 22nd, 2024 | Omaha Supernovas

OMAHA, Neb. — The Omaha Supernovas (12-6) put together a scrappy performance to take out the San Diego Mojo (7-9) in a 25-23, 21-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-12 five-set thriller Saturday night at the CHI Health Center. The Supernovas remain the only team in the Pro Volleyball Federation not to lose back-to-back matches. 

Setter Sydney Hilley put on a sublime performance in front of the 11,303 spectators in attendance, dishing out a franchise-record 61 assists to go with 19 digs, two blocks, two kills and one ace. Outside hitter Bethania de la Cruz was the main beneficiary, slamming down 20 kills and tying a season-high 14 digs as well as one block and her league-leading 25th ace of the season. Saturday marked the second time de la Cruz has accumulated 20 kills or more against the Mojo. 

Opposite Jess Schaben-Lansman exploded from the right pin collecting 16 kills, 11 digs, three blocks and one ace. Subbed in for a struggling Brooke Nuneviller, rookie Paige Briggs had one of her best performances of the season, finishing with 12 kills, 14 digs and two blocks in four sets. 

Middle blocker Hristina Vuchkova was the fourth Supernova to reach double-digit kills with 10 tallies on a .474 clip. She was the leading force behind a franchise-record 19 team blocks for Omaha as she tied her own franchise record with six blocks. Tori Dixon had two kills and three blocks while Sophie Davis saw her second action of the season, earning a kill and two blocks.

Libero Kendall White dug out 19 balls which is the third-highest total she’s totaled this season. The Supernovas hit .240 as a team with 19 blocks and four aces.  

Temi Thomas-Ailara was the star for San Diego, managing a match-high 24 kills on a .389 hitting percentage with 10 digs, and one block. Four different Mojo players posted nine kills including Kendra Dahlke, Willow Johnson, Ronika Stone and Morgan Lewis. Thailand native and setter Nootsara Tomkom handed out 53 assists and 19 digs. The Mojo hit .234 and had 13 blocks. San Diego finished with zero aces which is the third time this season the Supernovas have not allowed a serve to hit the floor. 

Set 1: San Diego took the first three points of the match behind back-to-back Thomas-Ailara kills and a Lewis kill. The Supernovas followed up with a 4-0 run of their own to grab the lead. San Diego regained the lead at 8-5 after Dahlke’s second kill. Schaben-Lansman served up an ace for Omaha to tie the score at 9-9. Mojo setter Tomkom recorded a block and Thomas-Ailara added a kill for a 13-9 San Diego lead. Vuchkova ended the Mojo run with a kill. San Diego jumped ahead 17-12 after a block by Ali Bastianelli. Kills by de la Cruz and Nuneviller cut the Mojo lead to 17-14. A 3-0 Omaha run forced a San Diego timeout at 20-18. Dahlke ended the Omaha run with her fourth kill of the match. She added her fifth to force a Supernovas timeout at 22-18. Trailing 23-19, Omaha finished the set on a 6-0 run and a de la Cruz block gave the Supernovas a 25-23 set win. De la Cruz finished the set with six kills, no errors and a .429 hitting percentage. Schaben-Lansman added four kills and an ace while hitting .500. The Supernovas outblocked the Mojo 5-3.

Set 2: San Diego jumped out to an early 5-3 lead behind Thomas-Ailara’s sixth kill. Tomkom found the floor for the Mojo to extend their lead to 8-5 and Bastianelli followed up with her third block of the match. De la Cruz recorded her eighth kill to side-out for the Supernovas. Hilley served up an ace for Omaha to cut the Mojo lead to 9-7. The Mojo went on a 3-0 run midway through the set to take a 14-9 lead. De la Cruz ended the run with her tenth kill. A Nuneviller ace brought Omaha within two at 15-13, Mojo. Back-to-back blocks by Schaben-Lansman forced a San Diego timeout at 18-17. Nuneviller added a kill out of the timeout to even the set at 18s. After being even at 21-21, the Mojo put together a 4-0 run to end the set 25-21. Seven Mojo players recorded a kill en route to a .357 hitting percentage. Thomas-Ailara led the way with five kills on the set.

Set 3: Briggs got the Supernovas on the board after her first kill of the match. She added a block to tie the score at 3-3 early in the set. De la Cruz followed-up with an ace. Omaha took the 8-6 lead after an electric block by Vuchkova. Back-to-back kills by Thomas-Ailara evened the score at 9-9, but the Supernovas followed-up with a 4-0 run. Bastianelli recorded her sixth block of the match for the Mojo side-out at 13-10. The Supernovas extended their lead to 15-10 after a Schaben-Lansman kill. Dahlke sided-out for the Mojo with a kill of her own. Schaben-Lansman posted a kill and Briggs added a block for an 18-13 Omaha lead. The Supernovas grabbed the 20-15 advantage after De la Cruz’s 15th kill. Thomas-Ailara added her 16th kill to side-out for the Mojo. San Diego brought it within three after a Willow Johnson kill at 22-19, but Schaben-Lansman gave Omaha a set point with a block. De la Cruz ended the set at 25-20 with her 16th kill of the match. The Supernovas posted a .359 hitting percentage on the set and outblocked the Mojo 6-2.

Set 4: Vuchkova posted her eighth kill of the match on a 4-0 Omaha run to force an early San Diego timeout at 6-2. Stone ended the run with a kill of her own. Omaha extended their lead to 9-4 after a Vuchkova block. Hilley recorded her second block of the match for an 11-8 Omaha advantage. The Mojo brought it within one at 12-11, Supernovas, but Schaben-Lansman posted her 15th kill to regain the two-point lead. Vuchkova pitched in a kill and block to give the Supernovas a 15-12 lead. Thomas-Ailara secured a block for the Mojo to tie the score at 17-17, and Johnson added a kill to give the Mojo the lead. San Diego extended their lead to 20-17 with Thomas-Ailara’s 20th kill. Briggs and De la Cruz brought the Supernovas within two, but the Mojo sided-out with another Thomas-Ailara kill. Scaben-Lansman grabbed the 23-22 lead for Omaha with her 16th kill to force a Mojo timeout. An Omaha error gave San Diego a set point, and Stone ended the set 25-23 to force a fifth. Vuchkova totaled three blocks for the Supernovas and added three kills on a .500 hitting percentage.

Set 5: Davis recorded her first kill of the match to put the Supernovas on the board first. Briggs doubled the Omaha lead at 4-2 with her seventh kill. Davis followed-up with a block, but Bastianelli sided-out for the Mojo with a kill. Briggs extended the Omaha lead to 7-5 with another kill. Lindsey Vander Weide earned her first kill of the match at 8-6, Omaha, but Briggs’ 10th kill gave Omaha the 9-6 advantage. Thomas-Ailara logged her 24th kill of the match to cut the Omaha lead to 10-8, but a service error gave the Supernovas the ball back. A Vander Weide kill brought the Mojo within one at 13-12, but Briggs gave Omaha match point with a kill. After a San Diego timeout, Briggs ended the match at 15-12 with her 12th kill. Briggs contributed six kills on the set and hit .545. Omaha hit .400 as a team.

It’s round four between the Supernovas and Mojo on Tuesday, April 23 as Omaha travels to San Diego with first serve set for 9 p.m. CDT at Viejas Arena. 

Fans can listen to all the action on the Supernovas Radio Network which is led by the flagship station, 93.7 The Ticket. Radio coverage is also on 95.7 The Boss (Omaha), KRVN (Lexington), KOLT (Scottsbluff) and KTIC (West Point). Award-winning broadcaster Derrick Pearson and AVCA High School Coach of the Year Renee Saunders will be on the call.


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