Women’s volleyball still in playoff hunt after five-set win

Senior opposite Kylie Cooke (No. 14) hits the ball against the University of La Verne Oct. 21. Photo by Ian Craddock

The women’s volleyball team won in a five-set comeback match against No. 24 nationally ranked University of La Verne Oct. 21. The night before, Chapman was swept 3-0 by No. 8 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Chapman previously beat Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at home Sept. 23 and lost to La Verne Sept. 26.

The factor that turned around the match against La Verne was, “energy, 100 percent,” said senior middle blocker Abby Smith. Chapman won the first set before dropping the next two sets.

“We had a lull there after the first (set) and we started to lose our energy, and I feel like there was a block in there and all of a sudden, everyone lit up,” Smith said. “From there, it was, ‘If you’re not feeling it, it doesn’t matter, fake it till you make it.’ It’s all about playing together, and I think that’s why we pulled through in the end.”

Chapman exploded in the last two sets, then built a 9-3 lead early in the fifth set that gave the team the momentum it needed to finish on top.

“This was a huge game for us to win moving into our last three games,” Smith said. “I think we have the momentum now and everyone feels good with each other, so it’s exciting.”

Chapman is fifth in the conference, which is the same position it in finished last year. The win over second-place La Verne has kept the team’s playoff hopes alive, with the Panthers only one game behind California Lutheran University.

“I think the energy and the momentum (against La Verne) was nice,” said head coach Mary Cahill. “For us to even have a chance at the postseason, we have to win out the next games.”

The win came after the 3-0 loss to first-place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on the road. Chapman beat the team in the conference earlier in the season, but didn’t continue its streak. Chapman played “OK” in the first set and was “right there” with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the second, Cahill said.

“It’s a huge arena,” Cahill said. “It’s a different place to play, so they did have a little of a home-field advantage. The third (set), they served us off the court and we started making silly mistakes, like we’ve done (before) here. It just compiled, and it was pretty much over really quickly.”

The mental aspect of the game will determine whether Chapman will make it to the postseason, or whether it will miss its chance for the second straight year, Cahill said.

“Our team is just in control of (its) destiny, in terms of winning and losing matches at this point,” Cahill said. “(The team has) to decide to step up. We are a very athletic team, but sometimes our brains get in the way and we get mental. We just need to play.”

Chapman’s final three games this season will be against teams that are all below Chapman in the conference standings. Occidental College sits one place below Chapman in sixth place, Pomona-Pitzer sits in seventh and the California Institute of Technology sits in last place.

Chapman’s next game will be at home at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 against Caltech.

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