Volleyball vanquished by Athenas

Sophomore middle blocker Kelsi Robinson spikes down the middle past Claremont-Mudd-Scripps outside hitters sophomore Nicole Kerkhof and freshman Mariah Rigg, in the first of a five-match battle Saturday. The Leopards were speared by the Athenas, 3-2./ photo by Emily Bieker
Sophomore middle blocker Kelsi Robinson spikes down the middle past Claremont-Mudd-Scripps outside hitters sophomore Nicole Kerkhof and freshman Mariah Rigg, in the first of a five-match battle Saturday. The Leopards were speared by the Athenas, 3-2./ photo by Emily Bieker

Jolene Nacapuy
Sports Editor

The volleyball team faced its first Southern California Inter­collegiate Athletic Conference loss to No. 18 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 3-2, Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court.

The team is also getting national attention after a great start on the season, receiving votes in the latest AVCA Division III Coaches Poll.

The Leopards came out on fire, winning the first set, but failed to keep the momentum rolling and forced five sets, resulting in a loss.

“In the first set, we executed our game plan and did our job,” head coach Jenna Panatier said. “We just didn’t continue to execute it and so that resulted in our loss today.”

With kills coming from junior outside hitter Brittany Yaxley, sophomore middle blocker Kelsi Robinson and junior outside hitter Ashlyn Cross, La Verne was able to get on the scoreboard quickly.

A kill by senior outside hitter Nysa Allen sealed the first set, 25-19.

The team finished the first set with a .593 hit percentage.

Yaxley started off the second set with a kill, putting the Leopards on the board first.

But errors made by La Verne gave the Athenas momentum.

“We didn’t have a good consistent flow because our energy would be up then it would go down,” Yaxley said. “Our energy was great in the first set and we need to maintain that throughout the whole match.”

A tip by sophomore outside hitter Nicole Kerkhof, gave Claremont the first lead of the game, 4-3.

As errors rolled in and momentum slowing down for the Leopards, the Athenas found a good opportunity to win the set, 25-16.

“We started off really good in the first set,” Robinson said. “But the energy and communication wasn’t there to follow.”

La Verne managed to tie the game, 2-2 by winning the fourth set.

A kill by junior middle blocker Destinee Sales broke the tie, giving La Verne the lead, 14-13.

A service error by freshman opposite hitter Margaux Arntson, allowed the Leopards to win the set, 25-22, as they headed to the fifth and final set.

“As a team we need to keep together and our main focus as a whole would be to focus mentally,” Yaxley said.

But La Verne was not able to keep the defense up and fell short early, losing 15-4.

“We definitely need to stay focused when things like this happen,” Panatier said. “It is staying focused and making sure that we stay consistent or we fall back.”

Yaxley led the game with 19 kills and Robinson finished with 10.

“I felt that I started the season very strong and I work hard at each practice,” Robinson said. “I try to get better everyday and each game I process what I need to work on next.”

The Leopards were not consistent and had 15 serving errors.

“We need to work on handling the ball better,” Yaxley said.

“Not only serving but also keep the rally flow going as well but in our favor,” she said.

The Leopards also traveled to Redlands Tuesday for their first SCIAC road match of the season and defeated the Bulldogs, 3-0.

Yaxley led the game with 15 kills, followed by Robinson, who had 11.

The Leopards kept the fire going from the first set into the second set, going on a 12-3 run.

With points coming from sophomore middle blocker Cassie Thompson and Cross, La Verne was able to win the set, 25-13.

In the third set of the game, La Verne had a strong momentum as they came out on a 5-0 run over the Bulldogs.

The Leopards also had assists by setters sophomore Tiffany Mancuso and senior Kailey Faust.

La Verne is now 8-2 overall and 3-1 in SCIAC play.

“We have a few things that we need to work on and that would be blocking, hitting, connecting and keeping a consistent energy throughout the game,” Robinson said.

The team will face Chapman at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Frantz Athletic Court.

Jolene Nacapuy can be reached at jolene.nacapuy@laverne.edu.

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