Nootsara and Nia Reed

Recap: Team Nootsara rallies to win Set 3, match against Team De La Cruz

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Sarah Smith
Eric Rhew
Oct 08, 2023

MESA, Arizona — One of the most unique things about Athletes Unlimited Volleyball’s scoring system is the fact that a team can lose two of a match’s three sets and still claim the match victory.

Team Nootsara provided the textbook example in its Sunday night affair against Team De La Cruz at Legacy Park. After dropping the first two sets, Team Nootsara rallied with a 25-18 win in the final frame to claim a 70-69 victory to close the twinbill.

Team Nootsara improved to 2-0 in the opening week while Team De La Cruz dropped to 0-2.

Middle blocker Ali Bastianelli and setter Nootsara Tomkom led the charge in the victory for Team Nootsara. Bastianelli was named MVP 2 and finished with 249 leaderboard points after notching 10 kills with a block.

Tomkom, meanwhile, secured the MVP 3 award following a performance that featured 31 assists and seven digs, giving the first-time captain 210 leaderboard points.

Rookie outside hitter Yossiana Pressley added 10 kills with two solo blocks and two digs for Team Nootsara.

Opposite Willow Johnson claimed MVP 1 recognition in the loss for Team De La Cruz after posting a match-high 17 kills with five digs and three solo blocks, giving the former Oregon standout 275 leaderboard points.


Trailing by a 51-45 margin to begin the third set, Team Nootsara rallied with a 25-18 verdict in the final frame for the comeback victory. Rookie outside hitter Claire Chaussee notched seven kills in the deciding set, while Bastianelli and Molly McCage each chipped in three kills.


Chaussee holds fourth place with 553 leaderboard points entering Monday’s Week One finale, but has a slim one-point edge over middle blocker Danielle Hart for the final captain’s spot. Three of Hart’s teammates – outside hitters Alli Linnehan and Leah Edmond and setter Sydney Hilley – hold the top spots entering the clash between Team Edmond and Team Nootsara.


  • Team Nootsara and Team De La Cruz combined to record six service aces in Sunday evening’s match, upping the league’s season total to 20 aces through four matches … Aspiration is committed to planting 10 trees for every service ace this season as part of its ‘Aspiration Aces’ initiative.

  • Team Nootsara and Team De La Cruz’s match on Sunday evening marked the third time in Athletes Unlimited Volleyball history where a match was decided by a single point … Team Larson edged Team Edmond by a 70-69 count on March 6, 2021, before Team Stivrins secured a 71-70 verdict over Team De La Cruz on March 25, 2022.

  • Setter Alisha Childress posted her second consecutive match with 40 or more assists after closing play with an Athletes Unlimited career-high 43 helpers in Team De La Cruz’s setback on Sunday night.

  • Outside hitter Bethania De La Cruz tallied her 28th double-digit kills effort in 32 career Athletes Unlimited matches after collecting 12 kills in Sunday’s loss … De La Cruz also surpassed the 450-kill mark for her Athletes Unlimited career and will enter Monday’s finale with 453 career kills.

  • Libero Nomaris Vélez Agosto extended her Athletes Unlimited record with the 25th double-digit dig performance of her career after tallying a match-high 15 digs for Team De La Cruz.

  • Johnson now owns five career efforts with 10 or more kills after her 17-kill performance.

  • Outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide contributed 10 kills and 13 digs in the loss for Team De La Cruz.


  • #1 – Willow Johnson (Team De La Cruz, +60)
  • #2 – Ali Bastianelli (Team Nootsara, +40)
  • #3 – Nootsara Tomkom (Team Nootsara, +20)

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