by Heather Baxter
Assistant Sports Editor
The University of La Verne’s undefeated women’s volleyball team, ranked second in the West Region and 11th nationally, is looking to end Cal Lutheran’s two-year reign as Southern Californian Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions.
With its dominating wins over Caltech, UC Santa Cruz, Chapman University and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, the team is confident in its abilities.
The La Verne team is currently 8-0 in conference play, and 19-0 overall.
ULV hosted Caltech on Tuesday, and claimed victory in three games, 15-0, 15-7 and 15-5.
Sophomore Kelsey Kennedy led the Leopards with six kills. Reigning SCIAC Player of the Year senior Amy Brummel also was key to the La Verne victory, contributing five kills. As a whole, the team racked up 24 kills in contrast to the nine for Caltech.
Although the Leopards were easily the dominating force in the match-up, Brummel feels that the team may have been too lax in its approach.
“When we played [Caltech], it wasn’t a strong game for us because we didn’t play to our level,” she said. “Facing a team like [Caltech] is hard to get the energy level on a high pace.”
This was evident in the scores across the board. Although La Verne came out strong in the first game, shutting out the Beavers, the level of play and energy decreased slightly. As a result, the Beavers tallied seven points before the Leopards took the game.
In answer to the lowering energy levels, La Verne stepped up its game and took the final game 15-5.
Sophomore Meridith Zembal gives credit to the Beavers for their performance.
“We were happy to keep our undefeated record, and as a team, we respect Caltech for their effort as a first year team in SCIAC,” she said.
“It was obvious to all of us that there was mass improvement for the Beavers.”
La Verne hosted the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs on Sunday and took the game in three straight matches, 15-5, 15-2 and 15-9, in a little over an hour.
Junior Adriana Contreras had an outstanding game, compiling 10 kills, more than any other Leopard, while committing only two errors.
The Banana Slugs stayed competitive throughout the match despite the dominance displayed by the La Verne squad.
UC Santa Cruz totaled 21 kills, only five behind La Verne, with Courtney Stimmler compiling eight kills. Their higher number of errors committed as a team was one of the contributing factors to its losses.
Hosting Chapman University on Saturday found the Leopards again taking the match in three straight games, 15-13, 15-6 and 15-12.
Brummel led the Leopards with 11 kills, with sophomore Stacey Lupu and Contreras trailing only slightly behind with 10 and nine kills, respectively. La Verne dominated with 39 kills as a team to the Panthers’ 27.
Friday found the visiting Leopards beating Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, again in three straight games.
Despite the dominating performances that the La Verne squad has consistently turned in over the past few weeks, Brummel admits that the team is not yet ready to say that they are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
“[To get in the playoffs], the energy level can’t be like it was [against Caltech],” she said. “We have to prove our ability, If we lose against Cal Lu, they could move in front of us.”
She also says that although the team is certain of its ability to win the conference title, they are not allowing themselves to take the upcoming games any less seriously than the games they have already played.
“We’re excited,” said Brummel. “We’re pumped because we have had such good games. We know that winning conference is in our future, but we’re going to focus on a game-to-game basis.”
The Leopards will visit Pomona-Pitzer tonight at 7:30 for a conference matchup.
They will host reigning SCIAC champ Cal Lutheran on Saturday at 7:30 and will play host to the University of Redlands on Tuesday at 7:30.