SPOKANE - After a late rally in game one fell just short, Whitman College lost its way in dropping a 25-22, 25-13, 25-12 non-conference volleyball decision to the University of La Verne Tuesday afternoon.
La Verne, coming off a 19-11 season a year ago, ran its early 2011 record to 6-3.
Whitman slipped to 1-5 this fall and returns home to regroup for the start of its Northwest Conference season this weekend. The Missionaries host Pacific on Friday at 7 p.m. and George Fox on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Whitman and La Verne worked through six tie scores to start game one, but the Leopards used a 10-2 spurt to grab a 17-10 lead.
The Missionaries came charging back to regain the lead with eight straight points, getting two kills from junior Rachel Shober and one more from junior Courtney Brewer, along with a service ace from first-year libero Annie Sing.
Brewer and two more first-year players, Samantha Cahill and Jazmin Moledina, nailed three more kills for a 21-19 Whitman cushion.
A Leopard attack error had Whitman on top 22-20, but La Verne reeled off five straight points to steal the win.
Up 7-5 to start game two, La Verne pulled away quickly on the strength of a 14-4 spurt.
Whitman bolted in front in game three, scoring the first five points. Sophomore Taylor Aschenbrenner served an ace to key that opening salvo, which also included kills by first-year right-side hitter Megan Bafus and junior middle blocker Olivia Nielson.
A second Bafus kill followed by a Moledina ace made it 7-1 Whitman, which is when the Leopards began scratching their way back into the game. The Missionaries still led 11-7 before La Verne finished the match on a dominating 18-1 scoring spree.
"We did not perform up to our standards and we need to refocus our goals for the season." Whitman coach Carolyn Papineau said.
"We did not execute well, and we never played at the pace needed to be successful against a strong opponent like La Verne. We never got on track."
With the offense struggling, Moledina and Cahill led the attack with four kills apiece.
Shober and Bafus each had three kills with Bafus collecting her three in just three attempts with no errors.