Leopards outlast San Diego State in 5

Freshmen outside hitter Alex Lienert spikes the ball over his opponents during last Sunday night's match against Harvard University. La Verne ended the match undefeated in three games. The resulting scores were 15-11, 15-7 and 15-5. / photo by Summer Herndon
Freshmen outside hitter Alex Lienert spikes the ball over his opponents during last Sunday night’s match against Harvard University. La Verne ended the match undefeated in three games. The resulting scores were 15-11, 15-7 and 15-5. / photo by Summer Herndon

by J.R. Gonsalves
Assistant Sports Editor

The Leopards have come a long way since their beginning in January. Teams do not come into the Supertents and leave their starters at home.

On Tuesday night, the Leopards faced the San Diego State University Aztecs, a team that just reached the top 15 in the Division I rankings.

The problem for the Aztecs was that they played their second string, after the Leopards beat their starters in game one. This mistake would cost the Aztecs the match, as the Leopards won in five games, 15-12, 17-16, 5-15, 9-15 and 15-12.

In game one, the Leopards totally dominated, and the Aztecs never found themselves with a lead as La Verne out hit the visitors pounding out 34 kills to 31 for SDSU.

SDSU did make a lot of mistakes in the game, but the key for the Leopards was not to let the Aztecs get away with those mistakes.

In game two, the Leopards played much the same as they did in the first game, only this time it took La Verne a while to get started.

The Aztecs jumped out to a 4-0 lead in a matter of minutes, but the Leopards weathered the storm and pulled the score even at 4-4.

In game one, SDSU’s starters could not finish the game, the Aztecs came with their bench players, and things were, oddly enough, a lot tougher for the Leopards.

After games one and two, the Aztec players got warmed up, and the Leopards seemed to be no match for SDSU.

Games three and four were won by the Aztecs, 15-5 and 15-9. These two games were not even close, and the Leopards seemed to be heading for the locker room early with a frustrating loss.

When game five started, the Leopards were still stunned from what had just happened in the match, but they got on the board first, and at 1-0, the Leopards took off.

SDSU did get a lead at 2-1, but after that, the Leopards never looked back, and the Aztecs finally went down in game five, but the match was not easy.

Last Friday night, Park College came to La Verne, and it probably knew what it was going up against, but it did not matter, as the Leopards beat Park College in three games, 15-4, 15-8 and 15-4.

La Verne had 49 kills and a .468 hitting percentage, to that of Park College’s 35 kills and a terrible .071 hitting percentage for the match.

“They had some height at some of the positions,” said head coach Jack Coberly. “I had good information on them, and we had a pretty good game plan.”

Park College may have some size in some positions, but La Verne had more talent.

“A strength to our team is playing together as a team,” said Coberly.

After walking over Park College, the Leopards met Harvard, which has an 11-11 Division I record.

The match was over in three games, and it lasted just over an hour. The Leopards won, 15-11, 15-7 and 15-5.

Harvard stayed with the Leopards in game one. The score was tied twice, at 5-5 and 8-8, and Harvard actually scored 11 points on the Leopards.

“They talked a lot of trash through the net,” said junior outside hitter Chris Peterson, who had 13 kills and nine digs.

Harvard was fired up to start the match. They cheered after every block, kill or dig. The problem for Harvard was that there was not much cheering after the beginning of the first game.

“Every time they talked through the net, it gave us fuel to embarrass them,” said senior opposite Ryan Allen, who led the Leopards with kills, 17, and he also had six digs and seven block assists.

The Leopards did overmatch Harvard, and the victory was a positive one, but for senior middle blocker Jason Flick, the match was short and not positive.

At the beginning of game one, Flick was injured when a player for Harvard came under the net and Flick landed on his foot, rolling his ankle. Flick exited the game at that point, and his status is day-to-day.

Sophomore middle blocker Ryan Orr was brought in and after Orr, senior middle blocker Joel Harworth came into the game. Orr had two kills and four digs, and Harworth added two more kills and three block assists.

“We have a lot of depth on this team, it is one of our strengths,” said Coberly.

The Leopards’ next match will be April 3 at home against UC San Diego at 7:30 p.m.

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Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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