Winning streak fuels confidence

Campus Times
October 24, 2003

photo by Reina Santa Cruz

Junior Amy Kratochvil, La Verne offensive hitter, compiled 10 points in the match against Occidental, which took place Tuesday in the Supertents. The Leopards mauled the Tigers, 3-0.

by Max Zänker
Staff Writer

With a clean 3-0 sweep over Occidental College Tuesday night in the Supertents, the University of La Verne women's volleyball team pushed its Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record of consecutive wins to 30 and cemented its leading conference position.

The Leopards never showed any doubt in their victory, as they dominated Occidental just under one hour with final scores of 30-13, 30-15 and 30-23.

"We came out fired up and showed our best performance this season. We finally played our game," said middle blocker Tricia Schary.

The junior led her team with five blocks and a hitting percentage of .438, where she improved her conference-leading hitting percentage of .430.

Head coach Don Flora demanded a "high level of execution in offense and defense" of his team, and his players implemented his assignment on the court.

Dig by dig, the Leopards let the Occidental attacks end hopelessly and executed the chances drawn from that by powerful and accurate kills. Outside hitter Amy Smith led her team with 12 kills and nine digs.

"This was not a perfect game, but it was pretty good," Smith said. "I never had the feeling that we could lose this one."

By beating the Tigers, the Leopards pushed their SCIAC season record to 8-0 and find themselves on the right track to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III playoffs.

"If we play to our full potential, we are not challenged very often in SCIAC," Smith said confidently. "And with this game, we are very close to playing to our potential."

Holding the SCIAC consecutive win record with a 30-game winning streak did not pressure the Leopards in the contest.

"We don't feel any pressure because we know how good we are," Schary said. "The record is an added bonus to our current game."

According to Flora, the players do not even talk about their winning streak.

"There is going to be a day when we are going to lose," he said. "But after that day, we will still believe that we can beat the rest of our opponents."

One of the main factors of the Leopard's success is the good team atmosphere.

The players push and motivate each other before the game, on the court and from the bench.

Another factor is the prevention of overconfidence.

"We make our mistakes, but we still know that we have potential," Schary said.

"We don't have to worry about overconfidence as long as we keep focusing on each opponent," Smith said.

Flora fights overconfidence in training.

"We train harder than we play. After a game like this, it's always fun to go back to training," he said.

Flora said an undefeated conference championship is the team's short-term goal and the hunt for another national championship is the long-term goal.

"We still have a couple of things to work on in our offense, and we also can improve our service and defensive intensity," Flora said.

"Within three weeks, we can fix the things we need to fix. Then we are going to be really good," Flora said regarding the NCAA playoffs, which begin Nov. 13.

The Leopards play Pomona-Pitzer at 7:30 p.m., tonight, in Claremont before facing Whittier College at 7:30 p.m., tomorrow, in Whittier.