Balanced Attack Carries Volleyball Past Whittier

Balanced Attack Carries Volleyball Past Whittier

LA VERNE, Calif. — The University of La Verne volleyball team banked its fourth consecutive SCIAC win Friday night with a 26-24, 25-17, 23-25, 25-20 win over Whittier.

Players of the game: Ashlyn Cross, Kelsi Robinson, Destinee Sales and Brittany Yaxley each recorded at least 10 kills. Yaxley led the way with 17 kills, Robinson ahd 12 and Cross and Sales each knocked down 10 apiece. The foursome combined to hit for a massive .370 hit percentage.

Yaxley also had four aces and eight digs while Cross and Robinson combined for four aces.

How it happened: Whittier's athleticism caught the Leopards off guard to start the game, as the Poets jumped out to an 18-12 lead in the first set. Yaxley then got the Leopards to 18-14 with a kill and ace and Whittier called a quick timeout to cut off any momentum.

But the Leopards continued their rally and rattled off five consecutive points to grab a late 24-22 lead before eventually claiming the set.

La Verne gave up the third set after taking the second on a strong finishing run, but not without a fight. After Whittier took a 22-15 lead, the Leopards went on a 6-0 run punctuated by an Anna Suarez ace to make things close, but the Poets held on with a couple of kills by Haley Whyte and another from Casie Lowden.

The Poets took a quick 2-1 lead to start the fourth set, but Sales answered with two straight kills and the two teams traded points before La Verne pulled away late. Robinson and Yaxley each contributed two kills to a match-closing 9-4 run.

From head coach Jenna Panatier:

On winning after dropping the third set: "We went back the game plan that we originally had. We got away from it in Game 3 and a little bit in Game 2 and definitely in Game 1. But we were able to calm it down and go back to the game plan."

On balanced attack: "It's our game plan. You cannot win a match with one person, especially against good teams."

On how she's feeling about the team: "I'm happy about the fact that we have athletes who were here last year that have made the choice to turn it around. That's what I'm happiest about."

On facing No. 2 Cal Lutheran on the road: "We have to be on our A game. Cal Lutheran is a phenomenal team. For us to walk away with the victory, we're going to have to bring our A game."

From junior outside hitter Ashlyn Cross:

On her mindset: "I went into it like every other game. No matter who's on the other side of the court, I have to do my job and do what we've been practicing every single week."

On her role on the team: "I contribute a lot of energy no matter where I am. Whether I'm on the court or on the sidelines, I know I have to give something to someone."

On what to expect at Cal Lutheran: "We're going to go out there with everything. We're going to give it our all and make sure we do our job and make sure we're not scared."

What it means: La Verne (11-2, 6-1 SCIAC) took sole possession of second place in the SCIAC standings, which sets up a clash of the top two teams in the conference when the Leopards travel to Cal Lutheran to face the nation's No. 2 team on Saturday.

Up next: First serve at Cal Lutheran is slated for 6 p.m.

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