Many teams start their seasons with an easy opponent. That was not the case with Chapelle and Cabrini as the two volleyball teams opened their season Tuesday at Cabrini.
It was the Chipmunks who won, defeating the Crescents 25-23, 16-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-12 at Cabrini.
Kayla Jones led Chapelle (1-0) with 17 kills. Emily Kennedy finished with 23 digs and Mallory Knudsen had 23 assists. For Cabrini (0-1), Rakell Spencer had a game-high 23 kills while Blythe Smith amassed 21 digs. Joey Alsandor had 16 assists.
The Chipmunks were ranked fourth in The New Orleans Advocate’s poll while the Crescents were 10th.
Tuesday was also the first match for new Chapelle coach Shannon Spafford who took over for Jennifer Gandolph, who left to be an assistant coach with the University of New Orleans volleyball team. Spafford inherited a team that lost four players.
“I’m very fortunate because my girls are phenomenal,” the first-time head coach said. “They’re going to put their hearts on the line.”
With the exception of the second set, much of Tuesday’s match was close.
Although Cabrini started out with a 3-0 lead, Chapelle won the first set, which featured seven ties. The last tie was at 21-21.
In the second set, the Chipmunks had a 2-1 lead, and it was the last time they held an advantage as the Crescents went ahead by 10 points.
“It looked like we got a little comfortable, and when they came out fighting, we weren’t ready for it,” Spafford said. “It’s something that we’ve been working on. We’ve been working on not letting that happen.
“It just slipped away from us. We got into a hole and just couldn’t dig ourselves out of it fast enough. The second game, we couldn’t do anything right. They started fighting back in the end.”
While Cabrini led 21-10 at one point in the third set, Chapelle got within three before the Crescents won.
“In that third game, they got into a little bit of a hole, but fought back in the end and that’s what took them into a fourth and fifth (games),” Spafford said.
For Cabrini coach Greg Castillo, the second and third sets were also important.
“I thought Chapelle was going to give up after the second and third sets,” he said. “They came back, and they fought. It just shows what type of team they are.”
Outside of the second and third sets, mistakes hindered Cabrini.
“We had a lot of serving errors at one point,” he said. “In the fourth set, we had three serving errors in a row. You can’t win matches and sets like that. We’re just beating ourselves.”