Volleyball beats Chapman, extends win streak to five

LA VERNE, Calif. — Brittany Yaxley, Destinee Sales, and Kelsi Robinson lit up Frantz Athletic Court with 16, 10, and 10 kills, respectively, to lead the University of La Verne volleyball team past Chapman, 21-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-13, on Saturday night.

La Verne improves to 9-2 (5-1 SCIAC) and Chapman falls to 7-4 (4-1 SCIAC).

The Leopards came out swinging to a 5-0 lead in the opening frame behind three aces from Tiffany Mancuso, a big block, and a kill by Ashlyn Cross, but could not sustain the early momentum. Chapman turned it around with a 12-7 run to tie it up and the Panthers closed it down from there behind Michele Hammer's five kills.

Despite a relatively close set, neither team hit particularly well and relied on their defense to earn points. La Verne hit -.071 and Chapman converted at a .081 clip.

"It's the entire team's job to stay engaged," said head coach Jenna Panatier. "Mental fortitude has to stay at a high rate or we drop sets."

To start the second set, La Verne again jumped out to an early 5-1 lead. This time around, they would not relinquish it; La Verne found some rhythm and looked to its veterans to set the pace. Yaxley, Robinson, and Sales combined for 11 kills to take the set 25-15 and tie it up 1-1.

The third set brought out the fire with both teams putting on a hitting clinic. Yaxley tallied six kills and hit .625, while Hammer earned five kills on .444 hitting for Chapman.

A four-point lead by La Verne prompted a Chapman timeout to regroup, but the timeout wasn't enough to slow down the Leopards as they took over to close out and take the set, 25-20.

The Leopards jumped out of the gate with five straight points in the final set to capture the momentum and translated it into a decisive match victory.

A key 11-5 point run, fueled by Cassie Thompson's two kills and a big block with the help of Mancuso, pushed La Verne ahead by ten points. A service error gave the ball back to Chapman but two straight kills from Cross pulled the favor back to La Verne. Chapman was able to string together a 4-1 run late, but it wasn't enough to knock the Leos off their toes as Yaxley hammered down two kills and the blocking duo of Thompson and Mancuso combined again to give La Verne match point.

An attack error by Chapman would seal the deal for the Leopard's fifth SCIAC victory in a row.

Yaxley led all hitters with 16 kills and 16 digs. Robinson tallied 10 kills and seven blocks. Sales counted 10 kills and four blocks. Cross recorded seven kills and 11 digs. Thompson earned six kills and four blocks. Mancuso dished out 28 assists.

Leopards will return to action on Tuesday when they travel to take on Redlands for a 7:30 p.m. start time.

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