No. 4 La Verne Defeats Nebraska Wesleyan 3-1 in NCAA West Regional


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LA VERNE, Calif. - After an eight-day layoff, the University of La Verne returned to action and delivered a 3-1 triumph over Nebraska Wesleyan by scores of 25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 25-12 in NCAA West Region semifinal action Friday night at Frantz Athletic Court.

The Leopards (24-2) advance to its second consecutive West Region final and sixth in the past eight seasons.  La Verne will face Cal Lutheran in an All-SCIAC final, set for Saturday at 7 pm.

La Verne swept Nebraska Wesleyan on the very same court nearly a month ago on Oct. 17 but found the going a little tougher this time around against the Prairie Wolves, who secured a 3-2 triumph over Pacific Lutheran a night earlier to reach the region semifinals.  But the Leopards fought off the Prairie Wolves and closed strong to reach the Sweet Sixteen.

The Leopards opened in solid fashion, grabbing an early lead midway through the first set.  Nebraska Wesleyan closed to within 17-14 but La Verne answered with the next three points to seize a 20-14 advantage.  Up 23-19, Brianna Gonzales and Crista Jones recorded back-to-back kills to give the set at 25-19 to take a 1-0 lead.

Nebraska Wesleyan reversed fortunes in the second set and took a quick 8-2 advantage.  Though the Leopards closed to within a point at 12-11, the Prairie Wolves regained control and increased its margin to 17-13 and 21-16.  NWU closed the frame as Ashley Jedlicka's kill at 24-21 knotted the contest at a set apiece.

La Verne opened the third frame with an 11-7 advantage only to watch the Prairie Wolves embark on a 10-5 run to take a 17-16 lead.  But the Leopards answered with four consecutive points which included kills by Brianna Gonzales and Madison Bradley along with a pair of Nebraska Wesleyan attack errors to reclaim the lead at 20-17.  Gonzales would earn four of La Verne's last five points on kills, staking the Leopards to a 2-1 set advantage.

The Leos cruised in the fourth set as NWU struggled offensively by hitting .043.  La Verne scored the first five points and didn't look back, holding leads of 11-3, 17-5 and 23-10.  Up 24-12, the Leopards finished off the Prairie Wolves on an NWU attack error to claim the match.

Both Gonzales and Jones collected 16 kills, with Jones hitting .419 while Gonzales also tallied 19 digs for a double-double.  Setter Yesenia Lopez also collected a double-double with a match-high 39 assists to go along with 21 digs.  Ashley Morgado totaled 11 kills with Anna Calmer and Rebecca Villanueva each contributing 8 kills.  Chelsea Sleight registered a team-high 25 digs.

Abby Bade registered a match-high 17 kills while Erika Goldsmith finished with a match-high 39 digs for Nebraska Wesleyan, who ended the season at 20-7.

Article courtesy of La Verne athletics.

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