LA VERNE, Calif. — The University of La Verne volleyball team won the first set, but couldn't hang on against the visiting Cal Lutheran Regals Thursday night, falling 3-1 in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament Semifinals.
Set Scores: 23-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-23
"I couldn't be more proud of this team," said Head Coach Jenna Panatier. "To go through what we've gone through and to weather the storm with heart and grit really says a ton about the character of our team."
La Verne jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the first set. Cal Lutheran battled back to take a 17-16 lead and the two squads battled back-and-forth with neither team able to get more than a two-point lead.
The Leopards caught a break when a Cal Lutheran attack went into the net to tie the set 23-23. Rojo closed out the set on back-to-back kills to give La Verne the opening 1-0 lead.
But the Regals responded in the second set, taking a 14-9 lead midway through the frame. The Leopards battled back and cut the deficit to two off a kill by Kiana Valdivieso and a ball handling error by Cal Lutheran. But Molly Holoway put down a kill to even the match at 1-1.
Afte Cal Lutheran won the fourth set to take a 2-1 lead, the Leopards took control early in the fourth with a 10-3 lead.
The Regals kept chipping away and eventually tied the game 23-23 before scoring the last two points to end the match.
Kristen Sanchez, who also earned First Team All-SCIAC honors, led all players with 31 digs. Katelyn Winiecki put down eight kills with Kelsie Sievers and Valdivieso each adding seven kills of their own.
"Those two brought in a wealth of knowledge and experience when they transferred in," said Panatier. "We are the team we are because of them."
The Leopards end the season with an 18-9 overall record, 11-5 SCIAC performance and a second place regular season finish in the conference.
"I love this team and the women that are part of our family and I'm excited for us to continue to grow. The overall health of this program is great and I'm excited to be a part of it," said Panatier.