Leos continue hot streak, cruise over Chapman, 3-0

La Verne senior middle blocker Alexia Balistreri spikes the ball for a kill to end the second set against Chapman Tuesday at Frantz Athletic Court. The Leopards routed the Panthers in three sets to claim first place in the SCIAC. Balistreri also tied for the team-lead in blocks with five for the game. / photo by Claudia Ceja
La Verne senior middle blocker Alexia Balistreri spikes the ball for a kill to end the second set against Chapman Tuesday at Frantz Athletic Court. The Leopards routed the Panthers in three sets to claim first place in the SCIAC. Balistreri also tied for the team-lead in blocks with five for the game. / photo by Claudia Ceja

Mark Acosta
Sports Editor

In a crucial game Tuesday night, No. 15 La Verne dominated Chapman at home in straight sets, 3-0, to move into first place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The Leopards were in control from the opening serve and led almost the entire match.

In the process the Leopards handed Chapman their first loss in SCIAC play.

“Honestly it’s not about how many sets, it’s about staying focused and taking care of business,” head coach Jenna Panatier said. “These girls knew it was a game for first place and had to come in focused, and they did.”

La Verne never trailed in the first set, the Leopards opened up on a 5-2 run and used that momentum to take control.

Chapman closed the gap and got the set to within two points, 11-9 but from that point on La Verne went on a 8-0 scoring run and claimed the first set, 25-16.

The Leopards were paced by five blocks from Alexia Balistreri and Delaney Lynch who added three kills in the set.

The Leopards started off the second set red-hot on a 9-3 run. But Chapman clawed their way back into the set, chipping away at the Leopard’s lead and getting the game to 17-15, forcing La Verne to call a timeout.

From that point on, thats as close as Chapman would get in the set and La Verne went on to win it, 25-20.

Senior outside hitter Marisa Rojo had five of her 10 kills in this set.

Looking to put the Panthers away in the third set, La Verne and Chapman traded points back and forth.

The set came even at 8-8, a 5-1 run by the Leopards prompted a timeout by Chapman.

After the timeout, La Verne would grab the lead by a few points and again, Chapman was able to hang around.

Chapman’s coach tried to stop La Verne’s momentum by calling a second timeout at 20-16. That would be enough, as the Leopards put their foot on the gas and won the set and the game on a 5-2 run, completing the sweep.

“We were just on the entire game. Even if they caught up, we stayed strong and focused,” said Rojo.

The team was able to get contributions from a number of players. Junior setter Natalie Barragan had 14 assists.

“We talked about going in there and not worrying about the other side of the net. This was a crucial game for us,” Barragan said. “We were super focused in what we were doing.”

Junior defensive specialist Kristen Sanchez had a team-high seven digs and four aces.

“We took care of our side of the net and did everything we have been working on in practice,” Sanchez said.

The Leopards’ next game is at 7 p.m. Friday at Pomona-Pitzer. They will host Occidental at 6 p.m. Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court.

Mark Acosta can be reached at mark.acosta@laverne.edu.

Claudia Ceja

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