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Volleyball rolls Whittier, wins eighth straight

LA VERNE, Calif. — Marisa Rojo continued her hot streak, the defense was nearly flawless and the University of La Verne volleyball team swept Whittier, 25-11, 25-17, 25-14, on Tuesday night at Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion.

La Verne improves to 16-4 overall and 7-2 in the SCIAC. Whittier falls to 7-13 and 3-6.

After dropping consecutive matches to Chapman (Sept. 20) and No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Sept. 23), the Leopards have now won eight matches in a row and have dropped only one set during the stretch.

"Consistency has been the key to this run," La Verne coach Jenna Panatier said. "The team has really owned practices, has come in ready to play and they're executing the things that we've been working on in practice."

And La Verne once again executed in all facets of the match tonight. The Leopards hit .308 as a team, registered 55 digs and notched 10 blocks. The team also totaled eight aces and held the Poets to just .060 hitting.

Leading the charge for La Verne tonight was Rojo. Rojo, who went into tonight's match with a .397 hitting percentage in her last five games, was unstoppable. The junior registered a match-high 15 kills on .448 hitting and added 11 digs and four blocks for good measure to lead the Leopards.

"We've elevated the tempo of her sets and that's helped her to get into a groove with her footwork, her timing and her arm swing," Panatier said of Rojo. "I think she's really enjoying the results of that change."

Rojo accounted for three of La Verne first seven points of the match to set the tone and was a threat all night. She has cleared the .300 hitting mark in each of the last six matches and has collected 50 kills during that stretch.

Kristen Sanchez and Natalie Barragan highlighted La Verne's defense. Sanchez recorded a match-high 15 digs and Barragan made some highlight plays to finish with seven. Sanchez added four assists and put away four service aces.

Tiffany Mancuso gave away 37 assists, knocked down three aces and came up with nine digs.

"I'm really happy with our team's performance, both on the court and on the bench," Panatier said. "They are playing as one group as opposed individuals and that, to me, is what's going to get us a [NCAA] playoff berth."

The Leopards have beaten three top-10 teams this season and are knocking on the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Top 25. La Verne received 71 votes in the latest poll released today and are just two spots away from being ranked.

La Verne is back in action this Friday at Redlands.

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