The Panthers dished out a royal beat-down to Hope International University to end the regular season on a five-game winning streak. The victory caps off a 23-8 season that has the women of the volleyball team holding their breaths for playoffs.
The Panthers dominated the court Wednesday in the Hutton Sports Center, beating the Royals of Hope International with a three-set win (25-14, 25-13, 25-18), marking the Panther’s best season in 17 years.
The team is ranked fifth in the Western Region. Wednesday’s game improved the team’s home record to 6-1. The Panthers, who have won 10 of their last 11 matches, will find out today whether they made it to the postseason playoffs.
“Tonight’s game was incredible. We wanted to break our record,” said sophomore outside hitter Jenny Gibson. “We jelled really well and we dominated.”
Before the game started, libero and outside hitter Alyssa Swatek and middle blocker Nalani Haviland were honored as the team’s two graduating seniors.
“We all played really hard for the seniors,” said freshman middle blocker Val Geiger. “It was really nostalgic, but hopefully we’ll go to postseason.”
Chapman held the lead during the first set. Only once did the Royals come within three points of threatening it. Early dominance was a trend this season. When the Panthers hopped out to an early lead, opponents rarely surmounted them.
The Royals did start the second set with a tenuous lead, but the Panthers fought back and wasted no time regaining control. The Royals struggled with four back-to-back service faults, giving the Panthers an added boost and advancing Chapman’s lead.
During the third set, it was clear the Panthers would tie their 1994 Division III record. After being briefly tied 3-3 with the Royals, Chapman excelled and held a lead until the very end.
The Royals suffered from a high number of faults, finishing the game with 22 compared to Chapman’s seven.
Chapman junior outside hitters Kate Ferrin and Ashleigh Gideon caught fire through all three sets, finishing with 12 kills each. The game ended with Chapman leading in kills 42 to 27.
“I thought we played really well,” said Head Coach Mary Cahill. “It says a lot about our team.”
Swatek hasn’t come to terms with the fact that her last season may be over.
“It hasn’t really hit me. It will once I know for sure we’re done,” Swatek said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll make [playoffs] though.”
Swatek led the team with 21 digs. Chapman ended the game with 74 digs to Hope International’s 61.