Volleyball gets loud for sweep of Caltech

La Verne senior right side/middle blocker Ayana Mier (2) sends the ball over the net as freshman middle blocker Olivia Rueckert (8) and senior setter Jordyn Patton (9) back her up against Caltech on Friday at the Frantz Athletic Court. The Leopards took the win over the Beavers, 3-0. They will next face Occidental at 7 p.m. Friday in Eagle Rock and then return home to host Chapman at 7 p.m. Tuesday. / photo by Camille C.Nan
La Verne senior right side/middle blocker Ayana Mier (2) sends the ball over the net as freshman middle blocker Olivia Rueckert (8) and senior setter Jordyn Patton (9) back her up against Caltech on Friday at the Frantz Athletic Court. The Leopards took the win over the Beavers, 3-0. They will next face Occidental at 7 p.m. Friday in Eagle Rock and then return home to host Chapman at 7 p.m. Tuesday. / photo by Camille C.Nan

Jack Janes
Staff Writer 

The tents were jumping with the bleachers filled with Leopards fans as the volleyball team picked up a win when they swept the Caltech Beavers, 3-0, Sept. 30 at the Frantz Athletic Court.

“It is so much fun, especially coming from last year when there was minimal crowd involvement with COVID to now like we are excited to have the crowd and the crowd is excited to be a crowd,” head coach Jeff Hendershot said. “That is the La Verne environment we have always had so to see it coming back and see all of our other teams supporting us, it is awesome.”

The Leopards dominated set one where they did not trail once. Some sloppy play by the Beavers allowed the Leopards to score seven straight points and run away with the set. Senior middle back Kari Esseff nailed down four kills in the opening set and seven total in the game to help the Leopards cruise to a 25-13 set victory.

Set two went just about the same as the first as the Leopards never trailed again and breezed to a 25-17 set win to take a 2-0 lead. Senior middle blocker Ayana Mier had seven kills in the second set alone and 12 total in the game. 

“We just knew that once we really just started to get into our own groove and play our game, we could easily win this game,” Mier said.

Set three proved to be a challenge for the Leopards. The Leopards had some costly mistakes that gave the Beavers their first lead of the match. The Beavers had an 11-6 lead until the Leopards got their groove back and freshman outside hitter Mya Ray connected for three straight kills to tie the game at 11-11. Ray would connect for more big kills in the third set, including the set clinching kill, her 14th of the game. The Leopards won the set 25-21 to complete the sweep.

The Leopards had to make some adjustments after a shaky start to the third set and they responded well.

“There was no way we were losing that set but I think we all came together and pushed through,” junior right side hitter and outside hitter Nalani Young said.

The Leopards also took on the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens on Saturday at the Frantz Athletic Court and lost a nail-biter, 3-2. Ray put up a whopping 26 kills in the game as she continued her impressive freshman season.

Then on Tuesday night, the Leopards faced the Whittier Poets at home as well and they completed an improbable comeback victory after trailing 2-0. The Leopards showed great resilience  and won three straight sets to win.

The Leopards will travel to Occidental to face the Tigers at 7 p.m. Friday and their next home game will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday night against the Chapman Panthers.

The Leopards are 10-6 overall and 4-3 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

Jack Janes can be reached at jack.janes@laverne.edu.

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Jack Janes is a junior journalism major.

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Camille C.Nan is a sophomore photography major who specializes in portraiture. She is a staff photographer for Campus Times and La Verne Magazine.

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