Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
LA VERNE, Calif. – The Whittier College Volleyball team picked up their biggest win on the season Friday night on the road as they upset the University of La Verne in five sets 25-20, 25-17, 18-25, 23-25, 15-12.
The win snaps a two-match losing skid as the Purple & Gold improve to 7-7, 4-2 SCIAC, while La Verne drops to 8-6, 4-2 SCIAC. The last time the Poets picked up a road win against La Verne came back in 2013 on September 13 with WC winning in straight sets 25-21, 25-16, 25-23.
Coming into the match the Leopards received 18 votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III National Polls, while Whittier was on the outside looking in. The Poets jumped out in front quickly two sets to none but saw that advantage evaporate as ULV battled back to tie things up at 2-2. But in the end WC was able to hold strong edging the Leos in the fifth and decisive frame.
Makenzie Thieme (Corona, Calif.) had the match of the season finishing with a match high 19 kills, while hitting .260. She also added five digs and a service ace. She totaled 20 points on the night. Freshman Franki Piloto (Ontario, Calif.) supported on the opposite side also having a breakout game totaling 17 kills on 34 attempts to hit .441, while registering six digs and six block assists.
Camryn Purdom (Moreno Valley, Calif.) led the front row with 29 assists and 14 digs but was impressive serving as she added four service aces. In the backrow, Haley Petruescu (La Mirada, Calif.) provided relief picking up 20 digs, six assists and a service ace.
Whittier hit .212 and .333 over the first two sets to put ULV in an early hole. In the first set they led 15-9 and despite La Verne cutting the deficit to one on two different occasions after that the Poets were able to battle winning the final four points of the set capped off with an Alaina Rhee (Kent, WA) kill and an ace by Purdom.
In the second, the Poets used an early 5-0 run to go on top 8-3. They then extended it to 15-5 winning seven of the next nine points and then put the frame out of reach moving the score to 20-8 after a kill from Thieme. ULV attempted a comeback with five in a row late but it would come up short as Ashley Whittall (Norwalk, Calif.) and Thieme would combine for back to back kills to secure the second stanza.
The Purple & Gold tried to put the match away by winning the third but the Leos had other plans swinging the momentum going out in front 15-11 before rolling to the 25-18 set that cut the deficit to one. In the fourth La Verne kept it close. It went back and forth with four ties late and with the frame all notched up at 23-23, ULV was able to capitalize on a Poet attacking error, while getting a kill themselves that tied up the match at 2-2.
In the 5th, Piloto came out of the woodworks with two early kills joined by Thieme to put WC on top 3-1. Piloto added another shortly after but saw the lead soon diminish as ULV stormed back to tie up the decisive set at 7-7. A service ace by Whittall and an attacking error by the Leos allowed Whittier to go back on top and they then used back to back strikes from Thieme to stretch the advantage to 12-9. ULV got two back right away to pull within one but three of the final four points would go to the Poets, which included a staple kill by Piloto that secured the upset.
Whittier returns home tomorrow, Saturday, September 29 when they host No. 5 Claremont-M-S beginning at 6:00pm.