The San Diego Mojo celebrate after beating Columbus/Lee Feinswog photo

SAN DIEGO — On February 19, the San Diego Mojo got swept for the third time to start the inaugural Pro Volleyball Federation.

“We just wanted to win a set at that point,” veteran Ali Bastianelli admitted.

They broke through with a four-set home victory over the Grand Rapids, but still lost three of their next four matches, were 2-6 and looking a lot like a team that was going to finish in last place in the new seven-team league.

But after the Mojo defeated the visiting Columbus Fury on Tuesday, they not only evened their record at 11-11 to move into third place, they clinched the fourth and final PVF playoff spot.

And coach Tayyiba Haneef-Park says her team is not done.

San Diego finishes the regular season at last-place Orlando on Thursday and wraps up Saturday at Columbus, which was eliminated by losing here.

“We still have two matches, so if we can win these last two, we can still (finish) third,” Haneef-Park said.

Atlanta (19-5) clinched the No. 1 spot and will play the fourth-place team. Omaha (15-7) will play the third-place team. Right now Grand Rapids is fourth at 11-12. Grand Rapids has one more match left, at home Sunday against Omaha.

The championship is in Omaha. The semifinals are May 15 with the title match May 18. 

The Mojo have been living on the edge. They won in four at Grand Rapids this Saturday but then got swept by the Rise the next day. 

Wednesday at San Diego State’s Vieja Arena, they beat Columbus 25-22, 25-21, 19-25, 25-21.

Temi Thomas-Ailara led with 20 kills, an ace, 12 digs and a solo block. 

“That last point and getting that win, that was really exciting for us,” Thomas-Ailara said.”We knew it was going to be tough but we’re proud of ourselves.”

Lindsey Vander Wiede had 17 kills, eight digs and a block assist. 

Ronika Stone had nine kills, five digs and seven blocks, three solo, and the other middle, Bastianelli, had five kills with one error in eight attacks, two aces, two digs and seven blocks, three solo. 

Morgan Lewis had seven kills in 17 errorless swings, five digs and a block assist.

Setter Nootsara Tomkom had 50 assists, two aces, 10 digs and five block assists, and counterpart August Raskie, who was key late in the match, had an assist, an ace and two digs.

“That was some of the best serving and blocking we’ve had in a while,” Haneef-Park said.

Kendall Kipp led Columbus with 16 kills, an ace, nine digs and nine kills, three solo. Reagan Cooper had 11 kills and Olympic veteran Michelle Bartsch Hackley, who subbed in during the first set, had nine kills, an ace, eight digs and four blocks, one solo. Kaitlyn Hord had eight kills with one error in 13 attacks, two digs and five blocks, two solo.

“I think this is exactly what this league is for,” Haneef-Park said. “The pipe dream that we can start on a rough path, be down three matches, and still finish in the top four at the end of the season.

“These girls have worked their butts off all season and when people counted us out, they showed up every single day. They put in the work and they were determined to make it here. So I’m just extremely proud of the league, what they stand for, and these girls on this team.”


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