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Leopards sweep PCC tournament

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La Verne junior middle blocker Katelyn Winiecki spikes the ball past Union freshman middle blocker Stephanie Libonati Saturday on the second day of the Pacific Coast Classic Tournament at the Franz Athletic Court. Winiecki, has been playing for La Verne since 2015, her freshman year. La Verne swept the opposition in the tournament with an undefeated record of 4-0. / photo by Audrey Gaudette

La Verne junior middle blocker Katelyn Winiecki spikes the ball past Union freshman middle blocker Stephanie Libonati Saturday on the second day of the Pacific Coast Classic Tournament at the Franz Athletic Court. Winiecki, has been playing for La Verne since 2015, her freshman year. La Verne swept the opposition in the tournament with an undefeated record of 4-0. / photo by Audrey Gaudette

Mark Acosta
Staff Writer

The women’s volleyball team carried it’s momentum in the Pacific Coast Classic from Friday into Saturday, beating Union College (N.Y.), 3-0, and Brockport, 3-2, in Franz Athletic Court.

The Leopards finished the tournament undefeated, going 4-0 to start the season.

La Verne came into the season ranked No. 25 in the nation by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. After sweeping the PCC, the Leopards are now ranked No. 15.

Head coach Jenna Panatier said she was excited about the progress that the team has made. The Leopards bring a balanced team of new and experienced players, and look to build upon a strong finish to the end of last season.

Against Union, the Leopards started fast and did not let up. The first set was thoroughly controlled by the Leopards and got little resistance from Union.

The Leopards never trailed in that set and went on to win, 25-15.

The second set was similar, as the Leopards kept their foot on the gas pedal.

They went on a 7-2 run to start and never allowed Union to establish a rhythm during the set, winning it, 25-16.

The third set was the most competitive.

Union kept the set close throughout and was able to tie it, 17-17.

But from that point on, the Leopards’ focus did not waver. They were able to seal the set and the match by going on a scoring run of 8-3, winning the set, 25-20.

“We expect to win from the hard work put in, but it’s nice to see the team come together quickly and in tough situations,” junior setter Natalie Barragan said.

She had 13 assists to go along with six digs in the game.

The Leopards had a balanced attack against Union and were led by a number of players.

Junior middle blocker Kelsie Sievers had eight kills, senior outside hitter Marisa Rojo added seven kills of her own, while junior middle blocker Katelyn Winiecki chipped in with six kills and four service aces.

“Starting off strong was a key point, on and off the bench,” Rojo said. “We are all playing together.”

The Leopards played a cleaner game than Union, having only 12 errors compared to 21.

“Speed has been better, coverage and getting to balls. We are very scrappy,” senior middle blocker Alexia Balistreri said.

The second game of the day against Brockport provided a much better test for the Leopards.

Just as they did in the previous game, the Leopards jumped out to an early lead, and never relinquished control, taking the first set, 25-13.

The next two sets did not go the Leopards’ way and Brockport was able to stay composed after a slow start and won the next two sets, 25-20 and 25-19.

The fourth set was highly competitive.

Both teams went back and fourth at one another, trying to seize control of the set.

Tied at 20-20, the Leopards used a 3-0 run to take control and eventually win the set, 25-22.

The Leopards controlled the fifth set, never allowing Brockport to take the lead.

They were able to win it, 15-11, and stay undefeated for the tournament.

The Leopards will travel to Springfield, Massachusetts, this weekend for the MIT Invitational tournament.

They will face Babson at 3 p.m. Friday, Springfield at 9 a.m. Saturday, and MIT at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Mark Acosta can be reached at mark.acosta@laverne.edu or on twitter @acosta_mark_.

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