Volleyball ends season with loss

by Enrique Gutiérrez
Staff Writer

What started as a disappointing season for the Division III Men’s Volleyball National Champions, ended as a disappointing season.

The University of La Verne dropped its last two matches against Division I squads, UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge, finishing with a record of 2-19.

La Verne lost both matches 3-0, ending a frustrating season.

“I think the only thing that is really showing at the end is our inexperience,” said head coach Jack Coberly.

“We’re asking a lot of young guys to do things that are really difficult. I think they have done a good job,” he said.

CSUN put the finishing nails in the Leopards’ coffin.

The Matadors came to the Supertents for ULV’s season finale Wednesday night. The Leopards lasted three games, falling 15-7, 15-11 and 15-8 to the 12th-ranked Matadors.

“We had very inspired moments of play,” said Coberly. “Their height was a real disadvantage, but I do think they are a very slow defensive team and I don’t think we took advantage of that.”

La Verne started off the first game by taking a 2-0 lead which did not last long. Northridge scored the next three points and took control of the game with an 8-3 lead after nine consecutive side outs.

The Leopards were down by as many as nine points during the opening game, when the Matadors were up 13-4. The visitors went on to win the game, 15-7.

Northridge had 22 kills and six errors in 35 total attempts for a .457 hitting percentage, contrasting with the .152 hitting percentage of the Leopards.

In the second game, La Verne seemed to be in good form, as it built a 5-1 lead. However, the Matadors rallied back and scored nine unanswered points to regain control.

Coberly said that inconsistency was the biggest obstacle the Leopards had throughout the entire season.

“We have to play at a much higher consistent level and we can’t even come down a notch,” said Coberly. “We have to be up there the whole time. That’s where our inexperience doesn’t help us.”

ULV mounted a rally of its own, but it was only enough to cut the deficit to four, 10-6.

The Matadors combined for 26 of their 65 total kills in the second game.

With a 14-11 lead, Northridge’s Greg Harasymowycz got one of his 18 kills to end the game.

The third and last game provided a similar scenario.

La Verne was down 10-5 and Northridge’s players knew the match was under control.

The Leopards were within three points, 10-7, after they scored back-to-back points while senior setter Matt Wright served.

Nonetheless, the home crowd would not get the satisfaction of seeing its team go out winning a game.

La Verne was led offensively by senior captain Dave Spegon and freshman utility player Jake Swann with 10 kills apiece. Freshman middle blocker Nate Silva added nine more in the Leopards’ losing effort.

In the meantime junior libero Agke Grow had eight digs, just as many as the entire Northridge team.

The Matadors locked the match up by winning five of the last six points and stamped a final period on the careers of ULV’s two seniors, Wright and Spegon.

“It was more of a fun game and less stressful atmosphere,” said Spegon of his final match. “There were no trophies handed out to who won or who lost.”

“They didn’t have a good season as far as wins and losses,” said Coberly of the seniors, “But they had a good career. [They have] a national championship.”

Spegon said this season was more of a rebuilding season and that is was helpful for the freshmen to gain valuable experience.

“It was a tough learning experience for a lot of freshmen. We lost a lot of guys I didn’t expect to lose,” he said.

“We have 17, 18-year-olds straight out of high school trying to play against these Division I athletes that get paid to go to school to play volleyball,” Spegon said.

The Leopards had previously lost to UC Irvine on Friday night on the same court.

The visiting Anteaters defeated ULV in three games 15-6, 17-16, 15-5.

Coberly said inconsistency was again the downfall of the Leopards.

La Verne had 17 more digs than UCI, 46-29, and three more kills (62-59), but had a low hitting percentage throughout the match.

Swann accumulated match highs 20 kills and 17 digs, but the Leopards came up short.

“We started like three freshmen the whole season, which makes it tough,” said Swann.

Sophomore middle blocker Thomas Hilton said he’s proud of the team, despite finishing with a losing record.

“[The season] was a struggle, but I’m proud of these guys,” Hilton said. “We’re not a big team but we worked hard. Our emotion was a little down realizing it was the end of the season.”

“I’m actually real pleased with the team because they hung in there. When we lose as many [matches] as we do is easy for a team just to give up,” Coberly said. “They were still disciplined throughout the whole season and I really thank them for that.”

He also thanked the fans for their unwavering support in a season that produced only two wins.

Coberly said a couple of players will not return for next season due to different circumstances, but he said, “the recruiting picture is looking good.”

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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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