Decisive win over Southwestern advances CMS to semifinals in NCAA Regional

(Photo by Tracy Olson)
(Photo by Tracy Olson)

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team eliminated Southwestern University (Tex.) in three sets: 25-14, 25-16, 25-17. The Athenas boasted a .467 hitting percentage in the rematch against the Pirates.

Earlier in the season, the Athenas lost to Southwestern in a heart-breaking five set match. Today, CMS executed its game plan and put on a dominating performance for a playoff win.

In each of the first two sets CMS took a 4-0 lead on sophomore setter Clara Madsen's (CMC) serve. CMS came out swinging with Madsen assisting three different hitters at the beginning of the match. Sophomores Shelbi Stein (CMC), Margaux Arntson (CMC) and Crystal Anderson (CMC) were all error-less during the first set and combined for 12 kills.

The Athena defense played a big role in the first set as CMS tallied 3.5 total blocks. Stein denied one of the Pirates' hitters, Macey Pool, with a big block to put CMS up 15-11. A triple block by sophomore middle Sarah Bruml (SCR), Arntson and junior outside Nicole Kerkhof (CMC) sealed the first set win 25-14.

CMS maintained a few point lead until Arntson drilled a kill down for the 14-7 advantage midway through the second set. The Pirates rallied deep into points as CMS racked up the digs. Stein, Kerkhof and sophomore libero Mikena Werner (SCR) each had five digs in the game. Southwestern looked to break up the Athenas' flow with a timeout during junior Natalie Creekmur's (CMC) serve which only led to yet another kill by Arntson. Stein and Madsen substituted in at set point for CMS and immediately finished it to give the Athenas the 2-0 lead in the match.

Southwestern began the third set with a new fervor, not wanting to go down without a fight. The initial points were long and emotion-filled keeping the score relatively even.

After the duo of senior setter Tanner Hoke (CMC) and Arntson subbed back in, the Athenas went on a 6-2 run to force Southwestern to take another timeout. In that stretch, Arntson and Kerkhof each had two kills that did not have a chance for a dig on the Pirates' side.

Southwestern gained some momentum on a handful of kills by the AVCA All-Region selection Kaitlyn Foster. Madsen connected with sophomore middle Mariah Rigg (CMC) on back-to-back kills for the CMS lead at 19-13. The teams traded a few points until a service ace by Kerkhof gave CMS their first match point. The Athenas quickly capitalized on the opportunity as Stein put away another set and the match with a thundering kill.

Both Stein and Arntson were error-free on the day with 11 and 13 kills respectively. Arntson significantly led all players with a .867 percentage in the match. Anderson was also in double-digit kills while Madsen and Werner recorded 10 and 15 digs. Kerkhof, an AVCA All-Region first team selection, tallied her 20th double-double of the season at 12 kills and 11 digs.

After Friday's dominating performance, the Athenas advance to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. On Saturday, Nov. 14 CMS (27-5) faces No. 1 seed Washington University-St. Louis (31-5) at 2:30 p.m. in the Gilbert Arena at Cal Lutheran University.

Box Score | Postmatch Interview

By Emily Nordhoff
Sports Information Director

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