Women's Volleyball Advances to National Semifinals

Women's Volleyball Advances to National Semifinals

Press Conference  |  Quarterfinal Highlights

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The No. 6 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas take a little time to get acclimated to a new match. One set to be exact. For the fourth-straight time, the Athenas dropped the opening set in an NCAA Tournament match before coming from behind to win the match 3-1. On Thursday afternoon, it was the No. 16 Gustavus Adolphus Golden Gusties that took a set off the Athenas but CMS prevailed for a 3-1 (16-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-14) victory in the National Quarterfinals.

The victory advances the Athenas to the National Semifinals for the first time in program history. CMS will face the Ithaca Bombers on Friday evening at 5:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. PT. The unranked Bombers are coming off a thrilling 3-1 upset of the No. 3 Emory on Tuesday afternoon.

As they did all three times in the Georgetown Regional, the Athenas dropped the opening set of Thursday's quarterfinal to the Golden Gusties. Gustavus Adolphus won the opening set 25-16 behind a .390 hitting percentage. The Gusties won the first point of the match off an attack error from CMS and never trailed in the set. CMS tied the set on two different occasions at 1-1 and 6-6, but the Gusties steadily built their lead and eventually won the set 25-16.

Just as they have all season long, the Athenas made some adjustments and righted the ship in the second set. Just four points into the set, CMS fell into an early hole at 3-1, but they went on a 13-4 run to take control of the game and snag a 14-7 lead. The lengthy run was the Margaux Arntson (CMC) and Isabelle Taylor show. The duo combined for five kills with three from Arntson and a pair from Taylor during the stretch. Shelbi Stein (CMC) and Crystal Anderson (CMC) each chimed in with a kill during the set-turning run.

CMS continued to extend their lead, eventually holding an 18-10 advantage. The Gusties made some noise with three-straight points, but a kill from Arntson ended the run and started a 7-3 CMS stretch to end the set. Crystal Anderson connected on a kill to end the set at 25-17 and even the match at 1-1.

After hitting at just a .154 clip in the opening set, CMS swung at a .316 mark in the second set. Arntson and Anderson each floored five kills in the set, while Stein added four of her own.

The third set was all Athenas from the start. CMS opened up an 11-2 lead thanks, in part, to seven errors from the Gusties. Melanie Moore (CMC), Taylor, and Stein contributed kills to build the comfortable lead. CMS continued to grow their lead eventually taking a 10-point lead at 16-6 on a service ace from Taylor.

Gustavus Adolphus closed the gap to within seven at 20-13 following a pair of kills from Kate Holton and an error on the Athenas, but they could not get any closer. CMS claimed the set by a 25-16 final and took an important 2-1 lead in the match. Neither team hit very well in the third game, but the Athenas collected six total blocks in the set. They finished the match with 15 as a team.

Needing to win one more set to advance to the National Semifinals, the Athenas controlled play throughout the fourth set, eventually winning the set 25-14 and punching their ticket to the Final Four.

The Athenas collected eight blocks in the set and forced the Gusties to hit at a -.062 clip. In the match, Gustavus Adolphus hit just .099 and recorded two sets with negative hitting percentages.

Arntson was consistent throughout the match, tallying at three kills in each of the four sets. In the final set, Arntson once again paced the Athenas' attack with four kills on eight attempts.

CMS earned the team victory thanks to a balanced offensive and defensive effort. Arntson led all attackers in the match with 16 kills and a .382 hitting percentage. Stein (12 kills) and Anderson (10 kills) joined the First Team All-American with double-digit kills.

Defensively, the Athenas finished with 92 digs, their second most in a match this season (vs. Chapman - Sept. 23). All-American Mikena Werner (SC) finished the match with a team-high 21 digs while Sarah Tritschler (CMC), Phoebe Madsen (CMC), Clara Madsen (CMC), Anderson, and Taylor all collected at least 10 digs as well.

As mentioned the Athenas will take on the Ithaca Bombers tomorrow evening in the National Semifinals. The match is slated to begin at 5:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. PT.