The La Verne volleyball team lost to No. 6 Johnson and Wales (Rhode Island) 3-1 in their matchup during the Pacific Coast Classic on Saturday.
The Pacific Coast Classic is hosted jointly by the University of La Verne and the Claremont Colleges to kick off the preseason.
This annual tournament involves 16 programs from schools throughout the country to compete in 32 games over two days.
“This tournament is a really high class tournament,” head coach Jenna Panatier said. “So we’re lucky to part of something like that because we get a lot of good teams here.”
The tournament allows La Verne to host games at home and allows the team to find a rhythm to open the new season. With the competitors that are in the tournament, the Leopards have to be up to par with their play.
The Leopards split their games on Friday going 1-1, winning against Southwestern and losing to Salisbury.
In the first set against the Wildcats, the score was close with Johnson and Wales up 19-18.
La Verne was able to push back and keep the score close, but ultimately they lost the first set 28-26.
Neither team led by more than three points in the set.
La Verne had trouble communicating with one another and that aided the Wildcats to capitalize off the Leopards’ mishaps. Madison Maynes, junior setter, led the team with 15 assists in the first set.
The Leopards had to regroup to get back into the game.
“The plan after losing set one was to catch our breath and really focus on our side of the net,” senior libero Kristen Sanchez said.
Early in the second set, La Verne did a better job communicating to one another and getting to different spots and making plays on the ball.
Their hustle and overall energy also seemed to pick up.
Midway through the second, the Leopards got two blocks by, Maynes and senior middle blockers Katelyn Winiecki and Kelsie Sievers to put La Verne ahead, 11-10.
Despite the Leopards’ best efforts, they lost the second set 25-26 in another highly contested set.
In the third set, La Verne got out to an early 4-1 lead and would never trail. The set was tied at 11 on an attack error by freshman outside hitter Hayley Celaya. But after a kill by Sievers, that is as close as the Wildcats would get in the set.
Darrah Jones, junior outside hitter, made a kill to give the Leopards a 23-18 lead.
Johnson and Wales did cut into the lead to 24-23 but La Verne held on to win the set 25-23 on an attack error by the Wildcats’ Katie Leidhold.
Johnson and Wales out-hustled La Verne in the fourth set and led 22-16. The Leopards’ momentum died down in the set as the Wildcats’ Leidhold made a kill to put the game away to win 25-21.
The Leopards tried to keep themselves in the game but could not close the gap.
Freshman defensive specialist Julia Trujillo said, “We started down but towards the end we picked up some energy and so did Johnson and Wales.”
Maynes said that the team has to dig deeper in upcoming matchups.
“We need to be more mentally strong and not give up our leads,” Maynes said.
The Leopards finished the tournament 2-2 as they defeated Franklin and Marshall 3-1.
The team travels to Texas this weekend to play in five games at the Trinity Fall Classic, Friday and Saturday at Trinity University.
The team opens up against No. 11 Trinity.