by Chrissy Zehrbach
The University of La Verne men’s volleyball team swept Hope International University, 3-0 (30-23, 30-17, 30-28), to wrap up its season home schedule Tuesday night in the Supertents.
Making their last appearance on the home court as Leopards were seniors Scott Alley and Liko Tubbs.
“Liko, especially the last month, month and a half, has really set pretty consistent, and its been good for the team,” head coach Morgan Coberly said. “Scott’s been pretty good all year. They played well tonight and I was happy for them.”
As a setter this season, Tubbs was averaging eight assists per game heading into the match. He had 22 set assists against the Royals.
Alley made the switch from setter to libero this year, collecting 76 defensive digs to average 1.5 per game.
Against Hope he picked up six digs. As a setter for ULV, Alley has 1,842 career assists.
“We’ve had some pretty dominant teams,” Coberly said. “Anytime you’re a part of a program that makes it to two, hopefully three, Final Fours, that’s pretty amazing. They’ve been solid contributors to that. They’ve certainly had good careers here.”
Both expressed sentiments about completing their college volleyball careers at ULV.
“It’s kind of sad because I really like playing here and I learned a lot,” Tubbs said. “I got a lot better since my freshman year.”
Alley was ready to finish his final season at ULV last year until he was called to active duty by the United States Marine Corps Reserves.
Because of an NCAA ruling regarding military service, Alley was able to return to ULV and complete his eligibility.
“Last year was supposed to be my last year,” Alley said. “I got a chance to come back and I got to finally put an end to what I started.”
“It’s the end of an era,” he said.
The competition was no tough feat for the Leopards Tuesday.
ULV dominated games one and two; the Royals never held a lead during either game.
Hope finally challenged ULV in the third game.
Down 13-9, the Leopards went on a 10-1 run, gaining a 19-14 lead. Hope continued to fight, but ULV pulled out the win.
“I was happy that we came back and built a little bit of a lead,” Coberly said. “We were just sluggish in the end there.”
“We played well at times,” Tubbs said. “The third game kind of lagged a little bit. (Maybe) people were content and not really motivated to play well the third game.”
ULV’s three-game sweep over the Royals was the second this season, the first of which occurred Feb. 24 in Fullerton. But like the Leopards themselves, the Royals had also improved since the last match-up.
“Their defense was improved. They were putting themselves in front of the ball and bringing the ball up and keeping it in play,” Coberly said. “They probably could have taken a game if they wouldn’t have made so many errors offensively, but defensively they played really well.”
“They seemed a little tougher this time…they played a little better,” Tubbs said.
Sophomore middle blocker Matt Cornell provided a game-high 14 kills for the Leopards, hitting .500 on the match. Outside hitters Elliot Naito and Jarrett Day each contributed seven kills in the win.
The Leopards hit .333 as a team, holding the Royals to a .036 hitting percentage.
Only two Hope players registered positive hitting percentages in the match, the rest were held to .000.
“We were a much better team than they were obviously,” Coberly said. “But sometimes those are hard matches to stay focused on.
In spurts we were really good tonight but we tended to let them come back instead of really pushing our game.”
The victory over Hope brings ULV’s overall record to 7-10.
Each of the squad’s seven wins this season have been 3-0 wins.
“When we actually are in a game, we get in there fired up, knowing we can beat a team,” Alley said. “We just don’t give up.”
Heading into their final match of the regular season, ULV is 7-10 on the season.
The Leopards concluded a five game homestand Tuesday, increasing their home court record to 6-3.
The Leopards’ only road victory so far this season was the Feb. 24 win over Hope.
ULV has been fighting for an at-large bid to the Molten Invitational national tournament to be held April 16-17 Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisburg, Va.
The squad will find out Monday morning whether it will receive the bid.
In the most recent Division American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 15 Poll issued Tuesday, ULV now holds a tie for No. 4 with New York University. The Leopards have held the No. 4 spot for four consecutive weeks.
The Leopards’ final regular season match is at 7 p.m. April 2 at Cal Baptist University.
Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.