Kerkhof breaks kills record in Athenas’ tournament sweep

Kerkhof breaks kills record in Athenas’ tournament sweep

CLAREMONT, Calif. – In the annual Pacific Coast Classic volleyball tournament hosted by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer and La Verne, CMS was one of only three teams that went undefeated. The Athenas only dropped two sets over the four matches and landed two players on the all-tournament team: senior Nicole Kerkhof (CMC) and junior Shelbi Stein (CMC).

Over the weekend, Kerkhof earned 55 kills, breaking the 11 year old career kills record set by Emily Bennett in 2005. In just over three years of playing, Kerkhof has already surpassed her predecessor's 1161 career kills. Bennett remains a dear member of the CMS volleyball alumni and is a cancer survivor.

The Athenas were a force to be reckoned with in the tournament that marked the first CMS athletic events hosted in Roberts Pavilion. No. 7 CMS beat Union College (25-13, 25-12, 28-26), University of Minnesota, Morris (25-18, 25-14, 17-25, 25-13), No. 10 Hendrix (25-22, 25-13, 25-20), and Trinity (19-25, 25-20, 25, 16, 25-15). The Athenas out-killed their opponents 221-143 and had 70 more digs.

Individually, Kerkhof led with 55 kills, followed by Stein at 50 and junior opposite Margaux Arntson (CMC) at 40. The senior/freshman setting combination of Clara Madsen (CMC) and Phoebe Madsen (CMC) accounted for 83 percent of the assists during the tournament. Defensively, junior Mikena Werner (SCR) led the way with 91 digs as Kerkhof and fellow senior Natalie Creekmur (CMC) tallied 68 and 55 respectively. Junior middle Mariah Rigg (CMC) had 12 blocks while sophomore middle Hannah Grobisen (CMC) led the Athenas with six service aces.

Game 1: Union College (25-13, 25-12, 28-26) | Box Score

CMS started in a hole as Union ripped off five straight points before a service error gave the ball back to the Athenas. After trading points, junior Sarah Bruml (CMC) served for six points to take the lead. Junior Crystal Anderson (CMC), Rigg and Arntson combined for three big blocks to force Union to have a negative hitting percentage for the first set. CMS held UC to similar numbers in the second set but then the Dutch rallied in the third.

All-tournament selection Ally VanDoren teamed up with setter Amanda Price and recorded six kills in the set. CMS fended off three set points to ultimately take the game 28-26. Kills by Anderson, Stein and Kerkhof kept the Athenas alive for the three-set sweep of Union. Stein and Kerkhof each had 14 kills.

Game 2: UM Morris (25-18, 25-14, 17-25, 25-13) | Box Score

The match against UM Morris was characterized by a number of long rallies. Werner ended up with 32 digs in the match highlighted by 10 in the third set alone. Again, CMS rallied from behind early in the match until Arntson and Phoebe Madsen got on a roll to give the Athenas their first lead of the game at 8-7. The set stayed close until Kerkhof strung three kills together to create the needed separation. At 23-16, freshman opposite Amanda Walker (SCR) subbed in for the first time in her collegiate career and earned the last two points for the Athenas.

In the middle of the second set, CMS out-scored Morris 18-3 to eventually take the set 25-14. The Athenas struggled to maintain rallies in the third set as the Cougars induced seven attack errors to drop the set 25-17.

Still in the driver's seat, CMS steadily built their lead in the third set. Rigg was perfect in her attacks and made six kills in seven attempts. The final point for CMS came off an assisted block by Rigg and Clara Madsen. While Rigg has led the team in blocks for the past two seasons, this is Madsen's first since Oct. 13, 2015.

Game 3: Hendrix (25-22, 25-13, 25-20) | Box Score

The first set against Hendrix was a battle with each team hitting below .150 and combining for 69 digs. CMS fought back from a 22-20 deficit to win five points in a row on Werner's serve to take the set.

In the second set, the Athenas recorded their highest hitting percentage in a set for the whole tournament at .433 with only two errors in 30 swings. Stein, Anderson, Rigg and Grobisen were all errorless and the team was led by Stein at five kills in the set. Up two games to none, CMS continued their roll to the second straight set win of the tournament as Arntson was successful in five of her six attack attempts.

Game 4: Trinity (19-25, 25-20, 25, 16, 25-15) | Box Score

Trinity (Tex.) gave CMS the most competition of the Pacific Coast Classic and, as the last game of Saturday in the main arena, drew a large crowd as the tournament came to a close. The Tigers came out aggressive in the first set and were successful in defending Kerkhof who only managed two kills.

The Athenas turned the tide back with the 25-20 win as Kerkhof showed her mettle in the second set. She went up for a big solo block to give CMS a three point advantage at 12-9 and then tallied a personal tournament-high of nine kills.

The momentum was entirely in CMS' favor after the second set victory. Sets three and four went the Athenas' way 25-16 and 25-15. Near the end of the match, Grobisen fired off three services aces in a row to force a Trinity timeout when it looked like she could finish off the set by herself. She recorded another ace after a kill by Stein, but by then, CMS already had the 21-12 lead and the Tigers' efforts to rally were futile. Arntson earned the final two kills to secure the four-match sweep for CMS in the tournament.

By Emily Nordhoff
Sports Information Director

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