For the third time in as many years, the University of La Verne women’s volleyball team has captured the SCIAC co-championship crown with the Occidental Tigers. And for the third time in as many years, it appears the Leos have improved from the previous season.
Improved might even be an understatement. For the Leos, as they entered the AIAW National Tournament yesterday (held at ULV), were seeded number one.
“This is the best team I’ve ever had,” explained ULV Head Coach Jim Paschal. “We have a different kind of talent than when we won our first championship, but overall the personnel was the best La Verne has ever had.
“I would even say our talent was the best in the league this year.”
Although that statement might raise some controversy out Eagle Rock way (on the Occidental campus), the Leos did, indeed, seem to be the better team down the stretch.
Paschal’s version: “Our overall hitting was super this year. In fact, I think it’s safe to say our outside hit ting was as good as anyone we’ve faced on the Division Ill level this year.”
Paschal was referring to the likes of junior Sue Habecker and sophomore Dena Base.
“They really did a tremendous job for us when we needed them in key situations,” Paschal said.
The rest of the coaches around the SCIAC must have thought highly of the pair also. Both Habecker and Base were voted to the All-SCIAC first and second teams respectively. “Habecker transferred in from Orange Coast (Junior College) and filled in for Robin (Holland) when she (Holland) was injured at the middle hitter position. I can’t tell you how much her addition has meant to us.
“Base was also a welcomed addition for us this year (she red-shirted last year due to an ankle injury). Dena got off to kind of a slow start, but as soon as she started to play all the way around, she really started to perform,” said Paschal.
Unfortunately for the Leos, there has been speculation that Base will leave the team as soon as. the tournament concludes to pursue her academics at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Although Habecker and Base might have received post-season honors, there was one La Verne player who might have been a cut above all the talent in this year’s SCIAC competition.
She is Eileen Kamidoi, a junior from Baldwin Park. Kamidoi was named MVP of the SCIAC unanimously after enjoying a stellar season for the Leos.
“Eileen is just a super all around player,” said Paschal. “She is just a great talent. It’s a joy to watch her play, she just gets so involved in everything she does.”
As for the tournament, Paschal was asked whether the number-one ranked Leos could win it.
“I think so,” he said. “Last year we finished fifth in the Nationals and the four teams that finished ahead of us are not here.”
Three of the schools Paschal was speaking of, Sacramento State, Azusa-Pacific and UC Davis, have all changed to either the NCAA or NAIA, while last year’s fourth place finisher , Sol Ross College of Texas, was ousted from the tournament in regional action.
Tournment action continues through tomorrow.