Omaha’s Stephanie Samedy attacks against San Diego/Bonnie Ryan for Omaha Supernovas

If nothing else, the Pro Volleyball Federation has become unpredictable at the end of its first season, and Wednesday’s semifinals punctuated that.

And now the Grand Rapids Rise and Omaha Supernovas will play Saturday, not only for the inaugural league title, but for the $1 million prize that goes with it.

The fourth-seeded Rise knocked out the top-seeded Atlanta Vibe in the first semifinal in five sets Omaha’s CHI Center and then the second-seeded Supernovas pulled off a reverse sweep to beat the third-seeded San Diego Mojo.

Grand Rapids rises to title match

Claire Chaussee, as she has done all season, led Grand Rapids with 22 kills to go with 10 digs and four block assists in its 25-20, 19-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-8. 

“This topped all the birthdays I’ve ever had,” said Chaussee, who turned 24 on Wednesday. “It was the best birthday and my wish came true.”

Emiliya Dimitrova had 19 kills, three assists, 12 digs and four block assists. Erika Pritchard added 15 kills, nine digs and two blocks, one solo. Kayla Caffey had 10 kills with two errors in 21 attacks, five digs and seven blocks, one solo. Marin Grote had four kills, three digs and seven blocks, four solo.

Setter Ashley Evans had 54 assists, a kill, 16 digs and six blocks, two solo. Camila Gomez added 13 digs and three assists.

“I’m so proud of how hard we fought. We knew all the pressure was on them, having the best record in the league, and they hadn’t had a game in two weeks,” Evans said. “They were extremely rested, but all the pressure was on them to get the job done andwe knew we could get the job done if we played freely and that’s exactly what we did.”

The Rise had no aces and 14 serving errors as they improved to 13-12. Grand Rapids is 4-4 in five-setters and became the only team to have a winning record against the Vibe (3-2).

“That was a tremendous match and two great teams had to battle it out in order to advance,” Rise coach Cathy George said. “I thought our team did a great job with composure. There were times we got a little out of that, but came right back into it and it really paid off. And we stuck together.”

Atlanta finished 19-6 after winning the regular season by three games over Omaha. 

Anna Lazerava led the Vibe with 17 kills, nine digs, an assist and five blocks, one solo. Leah Edmond added 13 kills, 13 digs and three blocks, two solo. Marlie Monserez had 42 assists, a kill, eight digs and five block assists. Morgan Hentz had 16 digs and five assists. Atlanta had one ace, by Member Leketor-Meneh, who had five kills, nine digs and three blocks, two solo. 

Emiliya Dimitrova of Grand Rapids attacks against Atlanta/Rise photo

Omaha advances the hard way

The Supernovas may be 17-8, but they’re 1-0 in reverse sweeps after their 20-25, 16-25, 25-18, 25-8, 15-11 victory on their home court. 

“You could tell when we came out in the third set we kind of forgot about the first two,” Omaha setter Sydney Hilley said. “We played with a lot more freedom and joy.”

Stephanie Samedy tied the league best with 30 kills and hit .410. Samedy had an ace, five digs and six blocks, two solo. Bethania De La Cruz, who had the previous Omaha best with 26 kills, had 11 kills, two aces, 19 digs and three block assists.

Brooke Nuneviller had 15 kills, an ace, an assist, 20 digs and four blocks, one solo. Tori Dixon added seven kills, an ace, a dig and six blocks, three solo. Hristina Vuchkova had four kills, a dig and seven blocks, three solo. 

Hilley had 46 assists, nine digs, a block assist and a kill. Kendall White had 11 digs and three assists.

“I’m so proud of this team and their resilience,” Omaha coach Bird Kuhn said. “I know I’ve said it a lot during the press conferences, but they like wrote the definition of it tonight in the way they fought, the changes they make and how they’re seamless when they come in for each other.”

San Diego (13-12) stunned the league the past few weeks with its late-season surge to not only make the playoffs, but get the No. 3 seed. Temi Thomas-Ailara and Lindsay Vander Weide had  11 kills apiece. Vander Weide, last week’s PVF player of the week, had an assist, 14 digs, an ace and a block assist. Thomas-Ailara also had an ace to go with nine digs and eight blocks, three solo.

Setter Nootsara Tomkom had 39 assists, 18 digs and three block assists.

PVF season awards

The league will name its player of the year and coach of the year Thursday night, but it has announced its all-league team and winner of various awards. Among the winners were Edmond, Tomkom, Hentz, Dimitrova and De La Cruz.

Click here for the complete list.


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