Grady Lee Thomas
It was a rare sight Friday night as the women’s volleyball team lost in straight sets (25-16, 25-16, 25-21) to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
It was the Leopards’ first loss to the Athenas in more than 10 years.
Although the 2010 Leopard volleyball team cannot be compared to what it once was, there were still many enthusiastic fans and “Leotics” in attendance at Frantz Athletic Court to support the team.
The loss marks the Leopards’ fourth Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference defeat and drops its overall record to 11-8 overall (2-4 SCIAC).
La Verne played hard every set, yet struggled to convert on numerous scoring opportunities, which led to a subpar .111 hitting percentage for the game, as a team.
“CMS played really well and we just didn’t execute,” head coach Marlon Sano said. “We need to handle our side of the floor and watch more film in order to learn from this game.”
“They did not show us anything we haven’t seen before, we just have to be better prepared at understanding ourselves and our opponents in order to win,” Sano said.
The Leopards began game one with solid teamwork and quality individual performances by middle-blockers Catie Logan and Danielle Maxwell, but the Athenas were able to maintain its offensive scheme while playing stifling defense throughout the game.
“Today was just one of those days. We were off as a team and it was hard for us to come together and fight,” freshman middle-blocker Maxwell said.
“We will learn a lot from this game, move on, and learn from it. That’s how you get better,” Maxwell added.
Going into Friday night’s game, CMS was in third place with a 14-5 overall record with a 5-3 SCIAC record.
Junior Emily Hudson recorded a match-high 11 kills, while her senior teammates Allie Macy and Kendra Huff played very well and also contributed to the Leopards defeat.
“College volleyball is super intense,” said Willy Griffin, loyal “Leotic” and sophomore business major. “Our ladies lost today, but I think they will learn from this game. Volleyball is a tough sport.”
ULV showed some signs of life in the third match, when it was able to pull within two points of CMS’ lead, but the Athenas’ aggressive attack proved to be too much to handle.
The Leopards were blindsided by CMS’ ability to score points in clusters.
When a team plays together and executes its coach’s game plan, the probability of winning, and doing so in three straight sets, is likely.
Outstanding individual efforts were turned in by several Leopards, including senior outside hitter Anna Calmer and senior defensive specialist Chelsea Sleight.
Sophomore outside hitter Randi Taylor-Toomay hustled around the court and made several good plays.
The losing continued on Tuesday for the Leopards, as Redlands beat them in four sets on the road.
If La Verne hopes to make it to the SCIAC post-season tournament it will need to snap out of this losing streak fast, as the games are starting to run out.
The Leopards will be at home for a doubleheader. At 2 p.m. Friday they take on Redlands (16-8). At 7:30 p.m. La Verne will need to play with all the effort they can as they take on SCIAC leaders Cal Lutheran, who come in with an overall record of 20-3.
Grady Lee Thomas can be reached at email@example.com.