CLAREMONT, Calif. – In front of the largest crowd for a volleyball game to date, the No. 2 ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team bested defending National Champions and No. 4 ranked Cal Lutheran in four sets (15-25-, 25-22, 26-24, 25-19). The Athenas had four hitters in double-digit kills and 16 more digs than the Regals.
CMS got off to a bumpy start as CLU went on a 7-1 run to start off the match. The Athenas rallied late in the set, finally looking more organized defensively but the deficit was too much to overcome. They dropped the first to the tune of 25-15. The Regals were good for 4.0 blocks in the set as CMS hit .000.
The next set saw the Athenas reduce their hitting errors down to six. Junior opposite Shelbi Stein (CMC) hit .500 in the set while senior Nicole Kerkhof (CMC) and junior Crystal Anderson (CMC) each hit over .300. CMS maintained a lead through the beginning of the game but CLU chipped away at the point differential until they had tied the game up at 12-12. Kerkhof brought the ball back with a side-out for sophomore Hannah Grobisen (CMC) to go to work behind the service line. Two big kills by Stein forced Cal Lu to use a timeout to re-organize when CMS held the 16-13 lead. After freshman setter Phoebe Madsen (CMC) substituted in, she connected with three different hitters for kills: junior opposite Margaux Arntson (CMC), Kerkhof and Anderson. The Athenas wrapped up the set with a big kill by Stein, her third in the set.
The third set had the fans of each team jumping out of their seats and cheering at different times, but by the end, all were holding their breath to see which team would pull it out. Between both teams, there were 56 digs in the set.
CMS found itself trailing by four points midway through the set, causing head coach Kurt Vlasich to use a timeout and pull the team together. In a postgame interview, Arntson credited Athenas' success tonight to trusting in each other and working together.
The teams traded points as the set wore on. Not wanting to use all 15 substitutes, Stein went back to serve as Clara Madsen rotated into the front row. A timely kill by Anderson staved off set point for the Regals and returned the ball to junior Mikena Werner's (SCR) hands to serve. The Athenas took their first lead since being up 3-1 with a kill by Madsen to give CMS set point at 25-24. Werner served an ace for the set victory, putting CMS up 2-1 in the match.
With the two-games-to-one cushion, the Athenas played with visible looseness. CMS put up a .359 hitting percentage, committing only three errors, against the defending national champs to win the match. Arntson was flawless while Kerkhof and Stein had five and six kills respectively. CMS controlled the game and then won it on a big kill from the right side by Stein.
Werner made a season-high of 34 digs in the match, just barely above her 32 against Minnesota-Morris during the Pacific Coast Classic. Clara Madsen led with 32 assists and sister Phoebe Madsen recorded 22. Stein ended up with 16 kills, Kerkhof and Arntson had 15 each, while Anderson came in with 13.
On CLU's side, Michelle Lawrence earned 17 kills and contributed to seven blocks and made one solo block in the first set.
Next up for CMS is Caltech on the road on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. and then they return home to face Whittier on Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. during the Roberts Pavilion Dedication weekend.
By Emily Nordhoff
Sports Information Director
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