by Kimberly Marshel
The scene was set on Tuesday, with the the University of La Verne women’s volleyball team squaring off against Chapman. The Leopards swept the Panthers, 15-4, 15-7, 15-11.
The game started with Chapman scoring the first three points.
La Verne quickly rebounded, scoring five straight. The Leopards scored another point off a vicious kill by junior outside hitter Jill Seaton and Chapman was forced to call a timeout. A Seaton serve and a Chapman lift call contributed to La Verne taking a 7-6 lead.
The Leopards, on a roll, scored four points right away, including an ace by senior middle blocker Denise Rice, to make the score 11-3. A block by freshman Sarah Henry made the score 12-3. Sophomore outside hitter Lynsey Best followed with another ace for La Verne, who finished with 12 for the night.
“We established a solid amount of energy and maintained it,” said assistant coach Don Flora. “We played above that level, but never went below it and that’s why we were successful.”
Game point was put away by Henry who slammed one down for the kill. The Leopards won game one 15-4.
An ace for Chapman opened game two, but a La Verne kill immediately got the ball back. A kill by freshman outside hitter Gina Medina and a net violation on the Panthers gave La Verne its first point of the game. The Panthers continued their pursuit, dumping in soft balls, exchanging sideouts and managing to score four straight points. A kill by Seaton gave ULV the sideout and Henry added the point with an ace, to bring the score to 5-2, Chapman.
The Leopards scored two more unanswered points before Chapman was forced to call a timeout. A lift call on the Panthers evened the score at five and Rice scored the go-ahead point with another ace. Two missed digs by the Leopards let Chapman go ahead 7-6. Both teams went point-for-point the entire game, featuring three straight aces by freshman outside hitter Allison Moore, moving ULV ahead, 10-7. A long ball past Chapman increased the lead to 11-7.
La Verne played an excellent second game despite the fact Chapman fell apart. They could not handle anything the Leopards had to offer. Henry put Chapman out of its misery by dishing out an ace to win game two, 15-7.
In game three, an ace by junior setter Mercury Simonian gave ULV the first point of the game. Again, the game went back and forth until La Verne scored five straight points, making a mark on every inch of the hardwood. The Leopards lost the ball on a long hit by Rice, but a dump by Simonian got the ball back. Four plays later, a serve by Simonian resulted in a kill by Moore, ending the match and game in favor of La Verne, 15-11.
For Rice, this was her last home game.
“It didn’t really hit me until I was on the floor,” Rice told KULV. “I was sad because I remember when I was a freshman and I took it for granted.”
It was a shaky start, but a happy ending for the women’s volleyball team last Friday night at home. In a roller coaster game full of net violations and kills, La Verne beat Redlands in three straight games, 15-9, 15-9, 15-4.
For La Verne the first game started slow, Redlands served up a pair of aces, ULV watched a couple balls go right by along with the lead. Redlands had gone up 4-1 before the Leopards woke up. Redlands setter Nicole Krause hit a ball long, giving ULV the ball and Henry slammed one down for a point. Three more long balls by Redlands brought La Verne within one, 6-5. Then Seaton served an ace to knot the game at six all. The ace sparked La Verne and sent Redlands scrambling. Outside hitter Cindy Taylor hit the ball into the net to hand the lead over, 7-6. Medina hammered one down off the defensive block and Moore also had a kill to give the Leopards a three point lead. The score stayed at 12-7 until a series of kills at the net and the game point blasted by Moore ended game one, giving ULV the win.
Between games, ULV’s Rowdy Rooters showed in support and seemed to catch the eye of Redlands’ Angela Salazar who could barely contain herself enough to serve the ball. But it was Henry who set the pace for game two. She first hit a rocket off Adri Stefanko that bounced off her and hit the roof. Then she blasted one through the outstretched arms of the defense that sent Salazar sliding head first into the floor but coming up empty. Mesmerized, Redlands watched a ball drop inside the lines, but a net violation gave Redlands the ball, not the lead.
After a series of sideouts, Medina picked the crowd up as she gave outside hitter Jennifer Fisher an unwanted but needed facial for point 5-2.
Two points later, Medina served up an ace, but Redlands managed to put together an impressive rally. Capitalizing on a little Leopard miscommunication and another net violation and two very good kills, Redlands tied the game at seven. A double contact call gave them the lead, 8-7, and a beautiful cross court kill by Tracy Grahn increased the lead to two points. A ULV kill ended the rally, but not before Redlands scored seven straight points.
Henry picked up the pace with the score tied at nine, slamming the ball into the wood and off defenders who could not get the dig. Rice also contributed with an awesome kill sending Salazar again to the floor. But it was Henry who served game point. Back and forth the ball went until Grahn swung with all her might only to find the net directly in front of her, handing the game to La Verne, 15-9.
In game three, the Leopards picked up where they left off, immediately scoring four points. The game continued with the exchange of violations and long balls that plagued both teams all night.
A small run for Redlands gave them four points, but it was all La Verne from there. At about 11-4, Redlands began packing its bags and four points later the onslaught ended on a questionable tipped ball that landed out of bounds in favor of the Leopards, winning 15-4.
“We played well enough to win in three,” said head coach Jim Paschal. “We don’t want to play like this on a regular basis.”
Paschal was worried about the lack of intensity with a big game against UC San Diego the next evening.
“It was good to kind of save our energy and give some people some playing time,” Paschal said.
The game against UCSD did not go as planned. The Leopards dropped three straight and lost the match, 15-2, 15-13, 15-3.
“We just weren’t focused,” said Flora. “San Diego had the momentum because it was senior night for them and we just couldn’t get it going.”
The Leopards have qualified for the playoffs with the No. 3 seated and will play UCSD, the No.1 seed, on Nov. 15 in San Diego.
“The odds are in our favor,” said Flora. “It’s difficult to beat a team, especially ours, three times in one season.”