Volleyball denied from national tournament
April 16, 2004
With no post season to look forward to, the University of La Verne mens
volleyball team took on California Baptist University with nothing to lose,
except the game itself.
The Leopards (7-11) were defeated in their final game of the season, 3-0 (32-30,
30-20, 30-23), April 2 at Van Dyne Gymnasium in Riverside after learning March
29 that they would not be traveling to the Division III Molten Invitational.
Instead, their rival, University of California Santa Cruz received the West
Coast bid to the national tournament, the teams first ever.
The Leopards had been hoping for the at-large bid, but realized that after
losing to the Slugs Feb. 28 in Santa Cruz it was out of reach.
Thats our main goal, and putting ourselves into a position to
get to that point by taking care of Santa Cruz as a rival, we didnt do
that up there, head coach Morgan Coberly said. Those are our goals
and we didnt do it. Thats OK, it just gives us more fire and more
motivation to do it the following year.
A committee made the decision based on different criteria, most of which should
have given ULV the bid.
They went outside their own criteria to select Santa Cruz, assistant
coach Will Paulson said. Its frustrating. We feel like they deliberately
didnt want us there.
The team, as well, is disappointed, as would be expected.
Its a pretty big disappointment but at the same time it was in
our hands, sophomore outside hitter Ricky Estrada said. We could
have easily won the second Santa Cruz game and we would have been in the drivers
Without national pressure on its shoulders, ULV put forth possibly the
best effort it had all season.
Its hard sometimes when the season is over; its real easy
just to quit, Coberly said. I think if weve learned anything
this year it was that its not okay just to stroll through matches. If
you want to win and if you want to beat good teams you have to play hard all
the time. I was really happy to see that, even though there was nothing to play
for essentially, they found something to play for and they played hard.
We wanted to prove to everyone else that maybe we should have gotten
picked to go to the Final Four, Estrada said. We didnt want
to just come here and fool around and get our butts kicked. We wanted to at
least prove that if we played well here then maybe it would show everyone else
that maybe they made the wrong choice.
In the strong outing against the Lancers, ULV put forth heart and intensity,
nearly taking game one of the contest.
Down 8-4, the Leopards went on a 6-1 run to take the slim 10-9 lead. They
stuck with CBU point by point, tying the game a total of 13 times.
Tied at 28, ULV surged on, stepping up for game point only to tie the game
at 29 on a blocking error. From there the Lancers rode a 3-1 run to take the
It kind of a big let down that we lost that first one, Estrada
said. We had so much momentum going and it hit pretty hard to lose that
first one when we thought we could have won it. We had it right there in our
hands and we didnt pull it out. The second and third games made everyone
come down. It was like we lost that fire.
After dropping the game, which had been within their grasp, the Leopards continued
to fight, but without the same authority as in the first game. The next two
games were nothing new, a sort of déjà vu of prior games against
It was one streak there in the second game where we got down. We dont
play well when were down, thats been hard for us all year,
Coberly said. If we wouldve had the fire we did the first game,
maybe things would have been a little bit different. But I wasnt displeased
with how we played.
After hitting .405 as a team in game one, the Leopards dropped down to .063
and .261 in games two and three, respectively.
On the other side of the net, the Lancers picked up their game from a .362
hitting percentage in the first game to .500 and .586 in the second and third.
For the third time this season, the Leopards were defeated by CBU, the No.
1 team in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
During good portions of the match, they played as well as they had all
season, Paulson said. It was good to end the season playing at that
level against a team that talented.
Spearheading the Leopards attack was sophomore middle blocker Matt Cornell,
who had 14 kills in the match.
Estrada also posted a strong performance with 10 kills and a team-high .571
hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Elliot Naito chipped in nine kills.
Making wise offensive choices was junior setter Dave Doxey, who accumulated
32 set assists in the match.
CBU (19-3) had three players record double digits in kills. Six-foot-10 junior
opposite Shaun Dyk powered the Lancers with 21 kills and a .704 hitting percentage.
The Leopards season ended with a positive outlook on the season to come.
With only two seniors graduating, ULV will return a strong core of players in
2005. Coberly hopes next year the team will achieve the goal it could not achieve
We got a lot of the bad stuff out of the way this year, Estrada
said. Next year were not starting from scratch. We have a good bunch
of guys, we all know each other and how to play with each other, so it looks
pretty good for next year.