LA VERNE, Calif. — The University of La Verne volleyball team rallied from a 2-1 set deficit to beat No. 9 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 25-20, 22-25, 26-28, 26-24, 19-17, on Tuesday night at Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion.
After claiming the second and the third sets, the Athenas took a 24-22 lead in the fourth on a Margaux Arntson kill and pushed La Verne to the brink.
La Verne called a timeout and head coach Jenna Panatier had one message for the team.
"I told them to believe and play as a family," Panatier said.
And the Leopards responded. Destinee Sales was put into the game following the timeout and immediately put down two straight kills to even the set at 24-24. Tiffany Mancuso then broke the tie with an ace and the Leopards pressed CMS into an error to force a deciding fifth set.
La Verne took an 8-7 lead into the turn and it was a slugfest from there as the teams went point-for-point. The Athenas fended off three match points and got a chance to serve for the match after a block gave them a 17-16 lead. But Tanner Hoke promptly overhit the serve and All-American Brittany Yaxley took it from there as the senior knocked down two straight kills to finish the game off for La Verne.
With the win, La Verne improves to 7-2 overall and 3-1 in SCIAC play. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps slips to 11-3 and 1-1.
"I'm really proud of how this team has come together as a family and I can't emphasize the world 'family' enough," Panatier said. "It's really what characterizes our team right now."
Yaxley was huge on both sides of the court. She finished the match with a season-high 22 kills, 24 digs and five blocks.
Arntson, Shelbi Stein and Crystal Anderson each had 14 kills to lead the Athenas' attack.
The Leopards return to action on Friday at Occidental. First serve is at 7:30 p.m.