by Katrina Hall
The University of La Verne men’s volleyball team has been trying to crawl out of the slump it has been in, but are not having any luck thus far.
On March 1, UC Santa Barbara, ranked 7th nationally, showed ULV why by taking the win in Santa Barbara over all three matches 14-16, 9-15, and 13-15.
ULV was dealing with a team who was quicker on their feet with higher vertical range and a stronger drive.
“We are playing against some of the best teams in the country aside from the Olympics which causes a little intimidation,” said head coach Don Flora, in his fourth season.
ULV played a fair game against Cal State San Bernardino but fell short of glory, losing after three games on Feb. 28 at home.
The first game was led and won by San Bernardino 7-15. They started out strong and finished the game winning.
In the second game, ULV came closer to victory but just could not get shots past San Bernardino’s blockers and spikers who worked very well together. The game ended with the score being 13-15.
The third game started with ULV leading by 10. With three points left to score for a win in the match, ULV tightened up and allowed San Bernardino to come back strong and steal the win 15-17.
“It is purely a mental focus and inability to finish the job to win,” said Flora.
ULV freshman James Klimkoski and transfer junior setter Morgan Coberly teamed up to hold a strong defense to block San Bernardino’s attempted spikes while transfer junior middle blocker Troy Langley contributed to the quick scoring with powerful spikes.
“We lack team leadership due partly because we are a new team who is not connecting with each other,” said Langley. “We’re just not going in the same direction.”
Once again the Leopards lost, this time to San Diego State, 4-1 on Feb. 27 at San Diego.
“This group enjoys playing volleyball,” said Flora. “They came out against San Diego Sate and played hard and they put effort in it.”
Part of the reason why the Leopards might be losing is because 6’8″ freshman middle blocker Adam Black has been out since Feb. 26 with a severely sprained ankle. This accident occurred the night before the game against San Diego State.
Black is nationally ranked third in blocks per game and is ranked sixth in the country in hits. He is expected to be back for the next game.
Schneider is also ranked seventh nationally in kills per game, as is Klimkoski who is ranked 6th in kills per game.
“This is a building year for us since our key players are freshmen,” said Coberly. “We haven’t played together enough to be strong this year and it will help later.”
“Everyone is coming back next season except one senior, Rob Sneider who will be a loss,” Flora said. “We need more cohesive understanding and trust with each other.”
For ULV to dig it self out of the hole in the three weeks before the end of the season, it will need to first put its egos aside.
“We have more ego then any team sport needs,” said Flora.
After that is done, every individual must continue to be positive and work toward that goal. Also, the intensity level needs to be up with energy and a decrease in errors will help clinch a win.
“The team in general get along fairly well although it has been a struggle getting to know each other,” said Flora. “We have a pretty good communication line though it could be better.”
This is mainly due to not being a full-time coach.
Despite ULV’s volleyball record of 1-12 overall as NCAA independent, it is ranked 5th in the country for Division III and 75 percent of the schools La Verne plays are nationally ranked Division I schools.
The Leopards’ next game is tomorrow against UC Irvine at home and starts at 7pm.