The women’s volleyball team fell 3-1 to No. 4 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference semifinal match Nov. 3 at Roberts Pavilion.
No. 19 La Verne has finished the season 22-6 overall.
Although the women have an impressive record, the CMS Athenas were able to able to triumph over the Leopards for the second time this season.
“I hate losing, we hate losing, our team hates losing,” head coach Jenna Panatier said. “But we have to look toward the future because we have a high probability of being put into the national championship.”
The Leopards did receive that bid and will face No. 5 Southwestern in the first round of the NCAA Regional Championship Friday at UTD Activity Center in Richardson, Texas.
La Verne won the first set against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 29-27 but fell short in the final three, losing 25-23, 25-19 and 25-16. In the first set, the Leopards scored a match high of 17 kills with only three errors, setting the team up for success.
“I think that we came out really strong and we had all the energy in the first game, and then when we started getting down,” sophomore outside hitter Delaney Lynch said. “We fought as hard as we could, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. We did our best and we have nothing to be ashamed of, we should be proud of ourselves.”
The teams remained close throughout the set until a final kill by sophomore middle blocker Kelsie Sievers led La Verne to their win.
In the second set, the Leopards gained a 3-0 lead. The Athenas quickly came back, tying with the Leopards three times in the set at 7-7, 8-8 and 10-10. La Verne began to fall behind with five errors, helping CMS get their first set win of the match.
“We kept our energy up,” Panatier said. “I think that that’s really an indicator of who we are as a program. Yes, we were losing, but we looked at and said ‘Hey, we gotta go, we gotta take care of business’ and it made me really proud to be their coach.”
In the third set, CMS was quickly up 10-1.The Leopards faced adversity with eight errors to the Athenas’ one.
“I’m definitely just disappointed because we’ve come in here before and we’ve been able to beat them, but we still fought really hard and we fought till the end so now it’s just we have to wait and see about NCAA’s,” sophomore libero Kristen Sanchez said.
In the final set, with back-to-back kills and errors from both teams, the score remained close. However, CMS was able to continue their winning streak with a nine-point lead.
“I love my team so much. I’m so proud of us for fighting so hard and really being the underdog and being able to push through a lot. We’ve been really successful,” Sanchez said.
Senior setter Tiffany Mancuso finished with a total of 44 assists and one service ace. Lynch and senior middle back Kelsi Robinson each had a total of 13 kills, followed by freshman outside hitter Marisa Rojo’s 12.
“I’m so proud of this team. We’ve been through a lot together, and it’s just made us closer, and nothing can break us down,” Lynch said.
The team finished with a .187 hitting percentage, 75 digs and six aces.
“I’m unbelievably proud of these girls, we’re 22-6, that’s ridiculous. We’re in the hardest conference in the nation, and we’re 22-6,” Panatier said.
La Verne’s match against Southwestern begins at 10:30 a.m. local time Friday.
Hannah Burton can be reached at email@example.com.