La Verne women advance to national semis

No. 4 University of La Verne advanced to the Division III national
semifinal, besting unranked New Paltz State 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-26)
in quarterfinal play Thursday at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington,
Ill.

The Leopards (26-2) will play No. 1 ranked Juniata (35-4) in today’s
semifinal with the winner getting the chance to play for a national
championship.

“It was nice to go and get this one out of the way,” La Verne coach
Don Flora said. “It was a matchup we definitely thought we should
win. We took care of business on our side of the net the way we
needed to.”

La Verne, which last made the national semifinal in 2005, was led by
senior outside hitter Brianna Gonzales who tallied 17 kills and 10
digs. Junior Crista Jones added nine kills while junior Rebecca
Villanueva contributed seven with 11 digs.

Junior setter Yesenia Lopez was the catalyst of the offense with 36
assists and eight digs and Courtney Boyd reeled off six service aces.

The Leopards are familiar with today’s opponent, having faced Juniata
earlier this season in a tournament they hosted. Juniata won that
battle 3-1

“We are excited about getting another chance to play them,” Flora
added. “We do what we can to see as many quality teams as possible
because of this. We hope to see tham again when it really counts.”

Juniata advanced with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-22) win over
Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the first of the four quarterfinals Thursday.
The Jaguars got 12 kills from Amber Thomas and 11 from Erin Albert.

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