CLAREMONT, Calif. - The No. 3-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team dropped the first set, and then came from behind in each of the next three to take a thrilling 3-1 home win over No. 6 Emory in a top 10 battle at Roberts Pavilion on the first day of the East-West Challenge.
With the win, the Athenas improve to 8-1 on the year, including eight straight wins since a five-set loss in their opener to Johnson & Wales (R.I.). Emory slips to 7-3 on the year with the loss, after also falling in five sets to No. 13 Juniata earlier in the evening.
Five of the first eight CMS matches this year have gone to five sets, and it appeared that this one might be the sixth, as Emory held a 22-19 lead in the fourth set looking to force it to five. However, the Athenas responded with a 6-0 run, capped off by a solo block from sophomore middle Melanie Moore to storm back and finish off the win.
The pivotal 6-0 run started with a kill from junior Amanda Walker, and after an attack error from Emory, sophomore setter Jessica Lee had service ace to tie the score. Moore and junior setter/hitter Phoebe Madsen combined on a block to give CMS the lead, and Madsen followed with a kill after a long rally to give the Athenas two match points. After an Emory timeout, the Eagles set up a play to go down the middle, but Moore was in the right position to deny the attack and send the ball back to the ground for the winning block.
"I think when it comes down to the last point, it's just all about energy and about heart," Moore said. "You just go for it, and if you get it, you get it. That's what we play for. We play for each other, and I think that's what it's all about."
It wasn't the only time that the Athenas came back to win a set in the match as well. After Emory won the first set 25-22, flipping the tables after CMS led 15-8 early, the Eagles were poised to take a 2-0 lead when they surged about 17-13 in the second. The lead was still at 20-17 for Emory, when the Athenas used a 4-0 run to take the lead. Moore had back-to-back kills to tie it, and Lee's service ace made it 21-20 in favor of CMS. The score was then tied up 22-22, but an Emory service error and a kill from freshman Jackie Jones helped set up the set point that pulled the Athenas even.
The pivotal third set was also tight late, as Emory took a 20-18 lead looking to get a 2-1 advantage in the match. Moore, though, had a kill and block back-to-back to give CMS a 22-21 lead. After the Eagles won the next two points, Moore had kill to tie it 23-23, and after an Emory error, she combined with Madsen on a block to win the third set 25-23, the first of two straight sets that she would end on a block.
Moore finished the match with 13 kills to lead the Athenas as well as a team-high eight blocks (two solo). Lucila Grinspan and Walker each added 11 kills, while Madsen had 30 assists and 12 digs.
CMS will be back in action tomorrow on the second day of the East-West Challenge with two matches, facing No. 28 UT Dallas at 10 a.m., and No. 12 WashU at 4:45 p.m.