No. 4 La Verne Wins West Regional

11/15/2008

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LA VERNE, Calif. - The University of La Verne volleyball team is off to Bloomington, Illinois after rallying from a 1-0 set deficit to defeat rival Cal Lutheran 3-1 Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court in the West Region final. 

Scores were 20-25, 25-22, 25-20, 28-26.  In the process, the Leopards earned a three-match season sweep over their conference arch rivals to claim their first region championship in three seasons.

Brianna Gonzales was named the Most Outstanding Player of the regional after collecting a match-high 27 kills against the Regals.  She also finished with 12 digs to collect a double-double for the match.  Crista Jones totaled 16 kills and was followed by Rebecca Villanueva who recorded 12.

The Leopards struggled against CLU in the opening set, hitting a collective .036 in falling 25-20.  Tied at 19-19, the Regals went on a 6-1 run to close out the opening stanza as Megan Thorpe recorded the final two kills to give the visitors a 1-0 set lead.

La Verne continued to struggle in the opening stages of the second set as they fell behind 8-4 and 12-8.  From there, the Leos began to establish control and proceeded on a 10-3 run to take a 18-15 advantage. 

Down 20-16, Cal Lutheran reeled off five of the next six points to draw even at 21-21, but would not claim the lead as the Leos converted the next two points on a Regal service error along with a kill by Villanueva to go up 23-21.  Crista Jones claimed the final two points on a kill followed by a service ace to even the contest at a set apiece. 

With that, La Verne ended CLU's string of seven consecutive set wins in the region championship after having defeated both Puget Sound and Cal State East Bay in sweeps to reach the final. 

The third set ensued with the teams tied at 13-13 in the early stages.  La Verne began to separate as the frame wore on, opening leads of 17-14 and 23-20.  The Leos would win the final two points on consecutive kills from Gonzales and Jones to prevail 25-20 to seize a 2-1 advantage.  La Verne enjoyed its best offensive output in the third set by hitting .267 compared to a .136 percentage for the Regals.

The two squads again battled throughout a fourth stanza which included several lead changes.  La Verne led 7-6 and trailed 10-9 before earning three straight points to go up 12-10.  CLU drew even at 16-16 but the Leos tallied the next three on kills by Gonzales, Jones and Villanueva to grab a 19-16 cushion. 

A kill by Gonzales gave La Verne a 24-21 advantage to hold three match points.  The Regals did not give in and responded with a 4-0 run to hold a set point at 25-24.  La Verne rallied for the next two points to lead 26-25, but again CLU tied the contest on a kill by Summer Plante-Newman.  The Leos went up 27-26 on a Regal attack error and finally closed out the match as the Regals could convert on an attack to win the match at 28-26.

Freshman Courtney Boyd totaled a team-high 25 digs for the Leopards with Villanueva contributing 21.  Yesenia Lopez dished out a match-high 44 assists.  For CLU, setter Lindsey Benson collected 40 assists in the defeat.  Allison Kerr paced the Regals with 14 kills followed by Megan Thorpe with 13.

La Verne improves to 25-2 heading into next weekend's quarterfinal round.  They will meet SUNY-New Paltz, the New York Region champion, on Thursday.  Cal Lutheran ends its season at 26-7.

Article courtesy of La Verne athletics.

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