La Verne can lock up playoff spot with win

by J.R. Gonsalves
Assistant Sports Editor

The 1998 season has come down to one match for the University of La Verne Leopards. Today against the UC San Diego Tritons, the Leopards’ whole season is on the line.

If the Leopards lose, which is not very likely considering the roll they have been on (beating Harvard, George Mason, San Diego State and Park College), there is still a chance for them to make the Division III playoffs.

The Leopards chances of making the playoffs are very positive at this point, but by beating the Tritons today, they will assure themselves a spot in Massachusetts for the Division III playoffs.

“Our whole team has a fire burning inside that has been pushing us the whole season. We are extremely fired up to beat these guys,” said junior Chris Peterson, who is leading the team in kills with 229, in aces with 18 and in digs with 105.

On Jan. 16, the Leopards defeated the Tritons in five games. In that match, La Verne was outplayed, losing the first two games of the match, 15-13 and 15-8.

“Our starters did not play good, and our bench played most of the match,” said senior setter Morgan Coberly, who had 45 assists for the Leopards against UC San Diego.

La Verne did not play a solid match against the Tritons, and despite the Leopards’ poor play, they still came away with a victory at the Tritons home court.

The major problem for the Leopards on Jan. 16 was the fact that the team could not hit the ball consistently. The team hitting percentage for that match was .152. La Verne’s percentage was better then UCSD’s, but if the Leopards expect to beat the Tritons tonight, they have to do a better job hitting the ball.

The Leopards were outplayed by the Tritons in the January match. La Verne only had 51 kills in a five-game match to 61 by the Tritons. The Leopards also only had 27 digs to the Tritons’ 33.

What kept La Verne in the match was its team blocks. They had 22 team blocks to 11 by UCSD. By doubling the Tritons’ team blocks, La Verne kept itself in the match long enough to produce a win.

Tonight the Leopards must keep their intensity up, because UCSD will come into the Supertents with a vengeance.

This match might come down to another five-game saga. The Leopards are in control of their own destiny. This is the match that La Verne has been waiting for since the program was started. A chance at a national championship.

For the players who have been on or around this team through all of the losing seasons, this match is the single most important match in the history of Leopards volleyball.

Players like Peterson, Coberly, senior middle blocker Jason Flick, senior outside hitter Jeff Pang, assistant coach Rob Sneider, senior opposite hitter Ryan Allen, junior outside hitter Sean Douglas, senior middle blocker Joel Harworth and sophomore middle blocker Ryan Orr, are all fully aware of what implications this match has on La Verne volleyball.

The match is tonight at 7:30 in the Supertents.

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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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