Leopards extend winning streak
|Posted Oct. 6, 2006|
Sixteen games and not one loss. Just think about that for a while. How many teams do you know that have started a season 16-0?
“We just want to keep going as long as we can and continue playing well together as a team,” sophomore opposite Madison Bradley said.
In what has probably been their toughest match of the season, the Leopards battled to beat the Cal Lutheran Regals, 3-1, Wednesday night and remain undefeated.
After taking the first two matches from its Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Cal Lu, 30-26 and 30-28, La Verne lost game three, 30-32, before winning game four, 32-30.
Despite her team’s loss, Regals senior middle-blocker Mo Coverdale, last season’s SCIAC player of the year and a First Team All-American, was able to record a match-high 34 kills.
Junior opposite Jodi Lindsay and freshman middle-blocker/ outside-hitter Crista Jones led ULV with 18 and 17 kills, while senior setter Leslie Flores racked up 59 assists.
It was a struggle for both teams from start to finish, with the better, more prepared team ultimately coming out on top.
Going up against another SCIAC rival, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, on Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court, the Leopards were looking to stay undefeated against a tough team.
The first two games of the match were a struggle with the Leopards ultimately winning both, 30-25 and 30-22.
The women then closed out the third game and the match with a 30-16 score.
“They’re a solid team,” head coach Don Flora said. “They play right, but we’re the better team and that showed.”
La Verne was able to hold the Athenas to a .031 hitting percentage while totaling seven blocks and 74 digs.
“It’s just team chemistry,” said senior libero Lauren Friestad, who had a match-high 28 digs.
“(Tonight’s game) felt awesome,” senior outside-hitter/defensive-specialist Whitney Kranz said. “Beating Claremont is always a big one.”
On offense, ULV was lead by Lindsay with 12 kills, followed by Kranz with 11.
Lindsay was able to continue her offensive dominance despite wearing a borrowed number 14 jersey instead of her usual number 23.
“We got these uniforms last year and the new one we ordered hasn’t come yet,” Lindsay said. “Hopefully it’ll come next week.”
This win is a big stepping-stone for more tough opponents to come.
“We want to compete at the highest level,” Flora said. “We look forward to matches like this and we’re going to see more this next week against Cal Lu and Redlands.”
Where CMS gave the Leopards a hard-fought battle, Chapman and Whittier didn’t fare nearly as well in the home-and-home double-header last Friday.
Starting with the Chapman Panthers at 2:30 p.m., ULV started slow in the first and third games of the match, 30-20 and 30-25, while dominating the middle game 30-13.
The only Chapman player who really did much against the Leopards was senior outside-hitter Christina Chambers, who finished the match with 12 kills and two service aces.
The highlight of the first game was junior outside-hitter Angela Coyle’s two straight service aces to close out the end of the game. Coyle finished the game with three aces.
“It felt really good,” Coyle said. “I feel like we’re on a roll as a team and I think we can keep it up.”
The play of the match, however came in the third game.
With the score at 22-19, Jones spiked the ball into the face of a would-be Chapman defender, sparking the Leopards to close the game out strong.
“I was pumped. It was exciting,” Jones said. “We just had to focus on our intensity and communicating, and that helped beat them in game three.”
It was an all-out team attack on offense, with 11 different ULV players contributing at least one kill.
“I love when everyone gets to play,” senior middle-blocker Megan Powers said. “We were just working well on connecting with our setters.”
According to Flora, this was not a surprise at all.
“We study our numbers and try to distribute the ball to people where they can be successful,” Flora said. “Things are starting to become more clear as far as where people like to hit and swing the best.”
After about a three-hour rest period, the Leopards returned to Frantz Athletic Court at 7:30 p.m. to tackle the woeful Whittier Poets.
The Poets never really had a chance, with the Leopards holding them to a .045 hitting percentage and again sweeping a match with scores of 30-14, 30-15, and 30-12.
This match, much like the Chapman match, was a complete team effort with every ULV player getting playing time.
However, unlike the earlier game there were some offensive standouts. Lindsay led with 12 kills, followed by Bradley with 9, and Jones with 7.
“I feel this season that everyone has contributed,” senior outside-hitter Kimberly Fitzsimmons said. “Our team gets along real well. We have fun on and off the court.”
Part of the success in this match and the season overall is the contributions that the incoming freshman class, led by Jones, have made.
“It’s a nice surprise to have them as ready as they are this early,” Flora said. “We have great expectations for that class to have a great career.”
The Leopards will attempt to continue their magical run at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Frantz Athletic Court against big-time SCIAC rival Redlands.
Kevin Zeni can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.