Athenas battle but lose to No. 3 Cal Lu

Arianna Sifuentes (Photo by John Valenzuela)
Arianna Sifuentes (Photo by John Valenzuela)

CLAREMONT, Calif. – The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's volleyball team lost to Cal Lutheran 3-2 in the Friday night SCIAC showdown (25-21, 25-19, 15-25, 23-25, 15-13).  The Athenas forced the match to go to five sets but could not pull out the win against the nationally ranked Regals.

CMS lost the first two sets but did not give up hope on the match.  The combination of the Regals' fewer errors and nine team blocks during the first two games were what gave them the edge to win the sets.  Despite losing the first two sets, the Athenas recorded 41 digs, 11 by sophomore Arianna Sifuentes.

CMS rallied in the third set and won it 25-15. The Athenas reduced their errors and took control of the set. Led by freshman Nicole Kerkhof with five kills in the set, the Athenas also recorded two team blocks on critical points.

Coming off the third set win, CMS carried their momentum forward.  The Regals countered with their own confidence and the energy in the gym was electric.

The Athenas came from behind to tie the game at 14 and then again at 15 points before taking the lead. Sifuentes and junior Megan Coleman contributed to the set win by each accruing three points on their serves late in the set.  CMS took the game 25-23.

The fifth set was back and forth until the score was tied up at 11.  The Regals scored three points in a row off a few miscues by the Athenas but then CMS scored two of their own to make the score 14-13. Cal Lu scored the final point on a kill by Allie Eason to win the match.

CMS totaled 94 digs on the night, a season-high in SCIAC play.  Digs by Sifuentes and Coleman summed to more than half of that total.

Kerkhof led the Athenas with 24 kills, close to her season-high 29.

The match showcased how evenly matched these two teams were. The number of kills and serving statistics were almost identical for CMS and Cal LU during the five-set match. While the loss tonight was disappointing, the Athenas hope to face the Regals again in post-season play.

CMS plays Saturday night across the street against Pomona-Pitzer at 6pm. In their last meeting, the Sagehens handled the Athenas in three sets so Saturday's rivalry game is a highly anticipated rematch for these two teams.

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