by Christie Reed
Blocking the spikes with a wall of bodies was one way that the Leo women’s volleyball team stopped its opponents, the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens, last Saturday, 9-15, 15-6, 6-15, 15-4 and 15-13.
“It was our best blocking game in a while,” said Head Coach Jim Paschal. “We probably didn’t block two against Oxy [last week].”
The first game began with a strong ace by Pomona’s Natalie Dixon, which set the pace for the rest of the first game. La Verne scored only nine points, but the Leopards showed their attempts to pull together near the end of the match. Pomona held the Leos to one point, while they earned an easy six.
ULV began to pick up the pace. An ace by senior setter Kim Caravalho and a kill by sophomore middle blocker Michelle Runyan began a streak that brought the Leopards to within one point, 10-9. A spike by Pomona, a controversial call, a soft kill and a miss by junior middle blocker Denise Rice took Pomona to the end of the match and left them with a win.
The close game and failure to be consistent motivated ULV to pick up the pace in the next game, in which the offense took control. Freshman outside hitter Jennifer Edie, who ended the match with six digs and one block, earned her only ace of the evening by giving La Verne its first point in the second game. A hit out by Pomona left the score 2-0, but Pomona did not stay stagnant for very long. At two points in the match, the teams were tied 3-3, and then 5-5. La Verne came back strong after being tied the second time, with key blocking by senior outside hitter Michelle Pulver and Rice. Another kill by Edie brought the score to 8-5, La Verne. The Leos remained aggressive and left the Sagehens with only six points in the game.
“We had great passing, good defense and a lot of teamwork,” said Margaret Pulver.
The third game brought back memories of the first. La Verne faltered on defense and accrued errors, which Pomona used to its advantage. The Leos’ competitive edge stopped after point five, and the Sagehens earned points with aces by Emily Dawe and Heather Pilatic, and hit outs by La Verne. Pomona scored two more points from lift and four hit violations. A kill by Andrea Bustamante and a block by Kelly Teresi closed the match for Pomona-Pitzer, 15-6.
“I think we need to stay consistent in playing together. We need to keep each other up and enthused mentally,” said Margaret Pulver, whom her coach claims played her best game of the season, finishing with eight digs and one ace.
In order to stay in the match, ULV needed to come back and come back strong. Aces by Pulver, a block by Rice and an error by Pomona left the score 4-0. Aggression came in the form of kills throughout the rest of the match. Rice rose to the top with three kills at points seven, 12 and 13.
“I think Denise [Rice] did a really good job in middle hitting,” said Michelle Pulver of her teammate who pulled the Leopards through the fourth game.
Edie scored the final kill, followed by a four-hit violation by Pomona, leaving the Sagehens with a mere four points in the game.
Adrenaline took hold of both teams in the final game. ULV wanted a ninth win after a couple of recent losses.
“I think after losing against Oxy and Whittier, we needed something to boost us up,” said Caravalho, of their motivation in the final game.
A fast-paced rally kept both teams neck-to-neck, but ULV managed to stay on top for the most part. A wide hit by Caravalho gave Pomona the lead by one point at the start, but Edie made up for her teammate’s mistake by regaining the lead with a quick kill, and two more later in the game.
Strong spiking, once again, kept ULV in the lead for the rest of the game, but with the Sagehens right on their heels. Errors provided Pomona with points 12 and 13, and a nervous feeling in ULV fans. With the score 14-12, things were up in the air and after a long rally, Pomona edged up one point, 14-13. A final block by freshman outside hitter Celestial George decided the game.
“I think we finally got the right substitutes,” said Paschal. “Celestial George came off the bench and did a good job playing in the middle.”
The Leopards, with a new motivation for the remainder of the season, pulled off the win by the skin of their teeth.
“We’re are looking forward to Cal Lu and Chapman; they’ll either put us in the running or take us out,” said Caravalho.
“We really have to concentrate on our match against Cal Lu Tuesday night,” said Michelle Pulver. “We can beat them and we can beat the rest of the teams.”
Tuesday night, the Leopards lost to Cal Lu 15-7, 15-7 and 15-5.
The Leopards have three matches left in the season.
“I’d like us to end up 13-13 for the season. That is our goal. If we win one more we will beat last year’s record,” said Paschal.