SAN ANTONIO — The No. 18 University of La Verne volleyball team turned on its jets in the final two sets after a sluggish start to defeat Simpson, 25-12, 20-25, 25-27, 25-11, 15-9, on the first day of the Trinity University National Invitational.
La Verne improves to 20-5 overall and Simpson falls to 12-18.
The trio of Ashlyn Cross, Destinee Sales and Brittany Yaxley led the way for La Verne. Cross registered 13 kills at a blistering .524 clip, had 12 digs and added three blocks. Sales put away a match-high 14 kills and had four blocks. Yaxley, fresh off claiming the top spot of La Verne's all-time kills list, added to her total with 13 kills and had 14 digs.
The Leopards struggled in the second and the third sets to fall behind, 2-1, but the offense came alive in the third set. While the Leopards recorded only five kills in the set, they used sharp serving and smart hitting to force the Storm into 13 attack errors, five of which were blocked. Cassie Thompson went up to block four attempts in an early 7-0 run that give the Leopards a 12-4 lead and the Leopards ended the set on a 6-0 run capped off by a Cross-Kelsi Robinson block.
La Verne carried the momentum into the deciding fifth set. The Leopards were clinical in attack, putting down 11 kills in 18 attempts. After grabbing a 10-4 lead on a 5-0 run, each of the Leopard's final five points came on kills. Yaxley had four kills in the set and Cross and Sales had three each in the set.
Thompson also had an efficient night, recording six kills on 12 attempts. She also came up big at the net with eight blocks.
Tiffany Mancuso turned in her fifth 40-set match of the season, giving away a match-high 44 assists.
Mackenzie McGraw led the Storm with 13 kills. Sara Hoppenworth had 35 assists and 12 digs for Simpson.
La Verne returns to action tomorrow for a pair of matches against No. 12 Southwestern (Texas) and Trinity (Texas) at 8 a.m. PT and 3:30 p.m. PT, respectively.