Nov. 15, 2009

Courtesy of University of Redlands

The Tigers of Colorado College (35-4) pulled out another come-from-behind, five-set victory as they pushed past the University of La Verne (23-14) in tonight's NCAA Division III West Regional Championship match. With six more kills and four more service aces in an otherwise even match, Colorado College held on for the 25-19, 20-25, 21-25, 25-19, 15-9 victory.

Colorado College came jumped out of the gates and won the opening set on the heels of an impressive hitting percentage of .381. With the score bouncing back and forth between the two teams, the turning point came at 17-15 when the Tigers went on a 3-0 run to create a five-point lead. From here, Colorado College remained in control of the set en route to the 25-19 win.

During the second stanza, La Verne capitalized on the Tigers' early hitting errors while taking care of the ball on its side of the court to gain an early 13-9 advantage. This was the only cushion that the Leopards needed to even the score at one set all with a 25-20 win.

The momentum stayed with La Verne as the Leopard attack rattled off 19 kills for a hitting percentage of .405 in the third tilt. After an early lead at 5-2, La Verne gained huge plays from its middle blockers as freshman Caytie Logan (Beaverton, OR) and senior Ashley Morgado (Hacienda Heights, CA) both put away big shots while protecting the net with a fierce block. The Tigers fought back to pull within two at 10-12, but that was as close as they came, resulting in a two-set advantage for the Leopards.

As always, the sport of volleyball proved to have swings of momentum and the fourth set saw a huge change as the Tigers came storming back. While Colorado College's hitting improved, the Leopards struggled against a more relentless Tiger defense. Colorado College took the lead at 4-3 when freshman outside hitter Lauren Goldsmith (Pacific Palisades, CA) smashed a kill, and never relinquished control of the set, forcing a fifth set.

In the fifth and deciding stanza, La Verne came out firing on all cylinders, earning a 7-3 lead off of a well-timed kill by senior setter Yesenia Lopez (West Covina, CA). However, the Tigers refused to go away and rallied back with a 6-0 run to go up 9-7. This span was highlighted by tough serving from Goldsmith, who aced senior outside hitter Crista Jones (Fresno, CA) in back-to-back attempts, clearly getting the La Verne offense out of sync. Despite the Leopards gaining consecutive kills by junior right side Anna Calmer (La Habra, CA), Colorado College posted kills by junior middle blocker Emily Perkins (Plano, TX), sophomore outside hitter Sarah Schmoker (Omaha, NE), and sophomore right side Meredith Ballard (Libertyville, IL), as well as an ace by sophomore setter Amy Schomack (Plano, TX) in the final plays to pull away with the 15-9 victory.

For ULV, Jones finished with a team-leading 17 kills for a hitting percentage of .222. Calmer added 12 kills and freshman outside hitter Randi Toomay (Glendora, CA) contributed 10. Junior libero Chelsea Sleight (Long Beach, CA) came up with 23 digs and freshman setter Kendall Kraiss (Huntington Beach, CA) distributed 27 assists.

The Tigers were lead by Perkins with 21 kills at a clip of .395. Ballard backed her with 13 kills for a hitting percentage of .300, while Schmoker and junior middle blocker Erika Pirotte (Nipomo, CA) added 12 and 10, respectively. Schornack supplied 57 assists and Goldsmith came up with 24 digs to lead her team.

Following the match, it was announced that junior setter Sarah Beaver (Gresham, OR) from Pacific Lutheran University, junior middle blocker Erin Exline (Clovis, CA) from Cal Lutheran University, junior outside hitter Jackie Hamilton (Loma Linda, CA) from the University of Redlands, Jones from La Verne, Sleight from La Verne, and Ballard from Colorado College all made the West Region All-Tournament team. In addition, the Most Outstanding Player was Perkins from Colorado College.

Colorado College now heads to University Heights, Ohio, for the NCAA Quarterfinal match against Washington University - St. Louis on Thursday.