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Leopard volleyball tears Athenas to shreds

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Volleyball went head-to-head with the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas on Saturday. During the last game, freshman defensive specialist/libero Anna Suarez dove for a dig with the back-up of junior outside hitter Randi Taylor-Toomay. The Leopards clawed the Athenas, 3-0, by scores of 25-20, 25-11 and 25-19. / photo by Denisse Leung

Allison Lavelle
Staff Writer

The volleyball team high-fived and enjoyed themselves on their way to another win with a triumph over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Saturday at Ted Ducey Gymnasium on the Claremont McKenna College campus.

With set scores of 25-20, 25-11 and 25-19, the Leopards shut out the Athenas and dominated the evening.

“Their communication with each other was outstanding on and off the court,” head coach Jenna Panatier said. “Everyone was outstanding.”

“Everyone was focused and everyone was talking to each other,” freshman setter Krystal Castellanos said.

The Leopards started strong and earned the first point in the match.

After keeping the score very close throughout until it was tied 16-16, La Verne pulled ahead and won the set with a score of 25-20.

La Verne’s dominating performance was strongest during the second set.

The team took an early 9-4 lead and stretched it into a 14 point margin, which was the biggest lead either team would hold the entire match.

La Verne finished the set with a service ace to complete their 25-11 victory.

The Leopards spent the majority of the third set behind the Athenas and appeared as though they were running out of energy.

After a one minute time out they fought back to take the lead with a score of 17-16.

The Leopards continued their late comeback to win the set 25-19 and completed the match with a 3-0 win.

La Verne’s sweep of CMS was their second consecutive shutout and eighth of the season.

The Leopards’ defensive players were successful in keeping their team on top during the entire match.

The team collected a total of six blocks and 65 digs and held the Athenas to a .000 hitting percentage and also earned two blocks to compliment their 58 digs.

Of La Verne’s 65 digs, a match-high of 24 were earned by freshman defensive specialist and libero Anna Suarez.

Junior middle blocker Catie Logan made 4 1/2 of La Verne’s six blocks, while CMS finished with half as many.

The Leopards also flourished offensively by finishing with more kills and fewer errors than the Athenas.

Junior middle blocker Kayla Cribbs finished with seven kills and hit a team-high .308 en route to the sweep.

Junior opposite hitter Randi Taylor-Toomay also earned seven kills on the evening.

La Verne only made 16 errors during the match opposed to the 23 committed by the Athenas.

The team’s excitement for their outstanding performance was obvious as they shouted encouraging words and gave each other high fives after making incredible plays.

“We had fun, everyone was loose,” Castellanos said.

Junior setter Kendall Kraiss was also very pleased with the overall performance and togetherness of her team.

“All of it was a high point,” Kraiss said.

Although the Leopards were excited by their performance, they still remained focused on how they can continue to play well and improve from Saturday’s performance.

Panatier wants the team to work on their consistency and keep their energy up.

“We’re still getting used to a somewhat new system and we want to continue building off what we have now,” Kraiss said.

Castellanos wants to work on her mental and physical toughness.

“I want to boost my self-esteem and work on putting out tougher serves and defense,” Castellanos said.

Saturday’s victory brought La Verne’s overall record to 8-5 and 2-0 in SCIAC play.

In total, the team finished with .150 hitting percentage in addition to 32 kills to earn the victory.

The Leopards swept the Athenas in last year’s third place game at the annual SCIAC tournament.

La Verne dropped a 3-1 decision to the Occidental Tigers at Occidental’s Rush Gymnasium Tuesday.

It was their first road contest of SCIAC play, which now drops their overall record to 8-6 paired with a 2-1 record against SCIAC opponents.

La Verne opened the game with a hard fought 25-23 opening set victory, showing early signs of a repeat performance from Saturday night’s shutout.

Despite the team’s early success, the Tigers took off, winning the next three sets consecutively by scores of 25-19, 25-13 and 27-25 to hand the Leopards the loss.

La Verne was led by Cribbs with 11 kills the team on the offensive end and Suarez led the team defensively with 23 digs on the evening.

As a team, the Leopards finished with a .182 hitting percentage, 41 kills and 74 digs in the loss.

The Leopards’ next contest will be against the SCIAC-leading and defending conference champion Cal Lutheran Regals at 7:30 p.m. today at Frantz Athletic Court.

Allison Lavelle can be reached at

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