Five-set matches have been nearly routine for the Chaminade University women’s volleyball team this year. Five of their first 19 matches in the 2021 fall season have gone the distance and each time the Silverswords have come out on top.
But the magic ran out in their sixth try.
Chaminade battled back from a 0-2 deficit against Biola at McCabe Gymnasium on Saturday, forced a fifth but couldn’t finish the reverse sweep in a 25-20, 25-20, 15-25, 21-15, 15-12 loss.
The defeat snapped the 24th-ranked Silverswords’ win streak at five, dropping them to 16-4 overall and in a tie for third in the Pacific West Conference with a 6-2 record.
Brooklen Pe’a (Woods Cross, Utah/Youngstown State/Bountiful HS) had a match-high 16 kills while Marcelle Butler (Woodstock, Ga./Howard University/Sequoyah HS) put down 14. Greta Corti (Varese, Italy/University of San Francisco/Alessandro Manzoni Liceo HS) contributed with 12 kills while tying her career-high with 21 digs, a mark she set this past spring as a member of the University of San Francisco.
The Eagles (9-6, 5-2 PacWest) were led by Raegen Tjepkema’s 14 kills and five blocks.
Playing without injured middle blocker Kyra McCain (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), one of the conference leaders in hitting percentage, the ‘Swords trudged through the first two sets, hitting just a combined.118.
However the third set saw Chaminade regain its form, breaking a 7-all deadlock with five straight points followed by an 11-3 run to stay alive in the match.
Down 7-4 in the fourth, the ‘Swords got a pair of 5-0 runs to help send the match to a fifth and deciding set.
Chaminade was seemingly in trouble, down 9-4 in the fifth, a similar situation they face two nights earlier against Concordia. But Pe’a and Butler combined for five kills and a Saryiah Kahakai (Honolulu/College of Southern Idaho/Farrington HS) service ace as a part of a 7-1 surge to put them ahead 11-10. But Biola made the plays when it counted, putting down two kills and getting a double-block from Tjepkema and Vanessa Garcia in a 4-0 Biola run to set up match point at 14-11. The Eagles’ kill leader, Madison Beebe, then ended it on their second chance at match point.
Alexia Byrnes (Chicago/Youngstown State/Saint Francis HS) had 33 assists and 11 digs for her team-best 13th double-double of the year. Anna Dalla Vecchia (Vicenza, Italy/University of San Francisco/IIS S.B. Boscardin HS) tallied 22 assists and, along with Corti’s 21, gave the ‘Swords two 20-dig performers for the first time this season.
Freshman middle blocker Alyssa Grodell (Valencia, Calif./Valencia) made her first career start in place of McCain and, after a slow beginning, put down six kills with five total blocks, three solo.