Red Leafs volleyball draw even

SFU extended both games to tiebreaker sets, but fell to No. 1 Seattle Pacific

photo of the SFU players in ready position on the court, waiting for the ball to be served.
PHOTO: Jimmy Ma / SFU Athletics

By: Kaja Antic, Sports Writer

On October 28, the SFU Red Leafs volleyball team faced off against the Western Washington University Vikings, securing a win in the evergreen state.

The Red Leafs defeated the Vikings 3–2 through five sets Saturday night, increasing their Greater Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) record to 8–4, with an overall record of 13–7 on the season. SFU gained the victory with wins in the second, fourth, and fifth sets. 

The first set went to the Vikings, who held onto a narrow 25–22 margin. SFU fought back the following set, winning 25–18, to equalize the score. 

In the third set, Western Washington stormed ahead with a 25–16 win, pushing SFU to the breaking point. If Western Washington won the next set, that would be the game — they didn’t. 

Instead, SFU had a strong push back, winning the set 25–18, and, most importantly, forcing a tiebreaker set, which is played over 15 points rather than the typical 25. 

Building off the momentum from the previous set, SFU was the first to 15 points, holding off their opponents to just six points — the largest spread in points in all five sets. 

The close win was certainly a team effort, with much of the Red Leafs roster contributing to the victory. SFU achieved 60 kills throughout the game, with the majority coming from juniors Jocelyn Sherman (19), Sophie Lachapelle (18), and Hanna Kolof (10). 

Sherman and Lachapelle also led the team in blocks, along with sophomore Ezawa Malish, with three a piece. Sherman also tied freshman Macyn Unger for digs, successfully executing the defensive move 23 times each.

Senior Kalyn Hartmann led the team in aces, producing half of SFU’s total for the game with five. An ace occurs when the opposing team fails to make contact with the ball after it’s served to them, or fails to turn that contact into a play. Freshman setter Ella McVittie collected most of SFU’s 58 assists, earning 49 throughout the game.

Though the team won 3–2 against Western Washington, less than a week later they found themselves on the opposite side of a win, falling  2–3 against the GNAC leaders, Seattle Pacific. The November 2 match took place in SFU’s West Gym Thursday night, with the Red Leafs winning the first and fourth sets, but ultimately falling short against their challenging opponent in the middle frames.

The loss moves the Red Leafs record within the conference to 8–5, though they still remain fourth in the GNAC standings. The Seattle Pacific Falcons are 13–1 this season in the conference, with their only loss coming on October 5 against Western Washington University.

Despite the loss, the Red Leafs still showed up well against the Falcons on Thursday night. The sets were very close, with the Red Leafs winning the first set 25–17, and Seattle Pacific taking the second 25–22 and third 25–18. Similar to the game against Western Washington, SFU won the fourth set, 25–19, to force a tiebreaker. They were just two points shy of the Falcons — the minimum margin to win a tiebreaker game — who scored 15 points first.

Sherman and Lachapelle once again led the team in kills with 20 and 14, respectively, with Hartmann just behind them with 13. Hartmann and Sherman led the team in aces with three each, with sophomore Ava Khademi just behind them with two.

Hartmann also led the team with six blocks throughout the game, while Unger once again led the team in digs, with 20 in the Thursday evening loss. Sophomore striker Eva Person led the Red Leafs in assists, earning 45 in the five sets played. 

The Red Leafs volleyball team now has an overall record of 14–8, with four games left in the season. The final game of the GNAC regular season, the team’s senior night, takes place on November 18 in SFU’s West Gym against the Northwest Nazarene University Nighthawks.