Leopard errors hurt their chances throughout the match as the team struggled to get an offensive advantage.
In the first set, the Leopards fell behind early, 11-4, when head coach Jeff Hendershot called a timeout to try to change the momentum.
The Leopards did not recover, dropping the first match 13-25 despite a couple of kills by junior setter Emily Heldenbrand and junior middle blocker Kari Esseff.
La Verne came out strong and put pressure on CMS in the second set, jumping out to 4-0 lead.
However, aces by the Athenas and errors by the Leopards gutted La Verne’s rhythm as the lead dwindled.
Freshman outside hitter Ha’ani Untalan said the team did not take advantage of their lead.
“We sat back and waited for someone else to make a move to initiate more game play. Even though we all can play our hearts out, we didn’t execute the game plan the way we were supposed to,” Untalan said.
The Leopards fell behind again, 12-8, when another Leopard timeout was called to stop the bleeding.
The Athenas did not let up. Multiple kills by CMS freshman middle blocker Kelsey Polhemus and senior right side Melanie Williams thwarted any potential Leopard comeback.
The Athenas took the second set, 25-13.
The final set of the match was even in the first half as the Leopards were only down 12-8 as CMS had multiple errors in this stretch to keep La Verne in the game. However, more Leopard errors and service aces from the Athenas buried La Verne and they would not come any closer, losing the final set of the match, 25-14, completing the sweep.
The Leopards struggled with gaining and keeping momentum throughout the match. Leopard junior setter Jordyn Patton said this team has to work harder mentally to keep themselves in the games because they are a little younger than the rest of the SCIAC.
“We lose momentum and it’s hard to get it back,” Patton said. “Our coaches do a good job of getting us game plans and we have to work harder to focus on these game plans and hold them down.”
Esseff said the Leopards have to focus on their roles to get back into the standings for the rest of the season.
“We have to start off strong, we need to communicate and focus on our own jobs so we can come together and get some wins going forward,” Esseff said.
La Verne visited Chapman on Saturday and lost their third consecutive conference match, again in straight sets.
The Leopards hosted Pomona-Pitzer on Tuesday, only to lose that match as well, 3-1.
The losses leave La Verne with a 4-7 overall record, and 0-4 in SCIAC.
The team will try to get back on track on the road against Whittier at 7 p.m. Friday.
Jacob Barriga can be reached at email@example.com.