CLAREMONT, Calif. - Junior libero Sarah Tritschler had a career-high 40 digs in a four-set match to lead the No. 3-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team to a 3-1 win over Cal Lutheran on Thursday evening at Roberts Pavilion.
Set scores were 25-22, 25-12, 26-28, 25-21 as the Athenas improve to 16-2 on the season and remain perfect in the SCIAC at 7-0. Cal Lutheran sees its record fall to 10-9 overall and 4-4 in the conference with the loss.
Tritschler passed her previous career high of 38 digs, which was set just five days ago in five sets when the Athenas defeated Whittier on the road 3-2. A week prior, she reached the 30-dig plateau for the first time in her career when she had 32 in a five-set road win over La Verne on Sept. 18. Mikena Werner was the last player for CMS to reach the 40-dig mark when she had 41 in a five-set loss to Southwestern (Texas) in the 2015 season.
The 40th dig for Tritschler on Thursday night also turned into an assist, as she read a tip attempt from Cal Lutheran and dove across the floor to keep it alive to junior setter Phoebe Madsen. Madsen then deposited the ball over the net for a kill and a 24-21 lead in the fourth set, which was followed by an ace from sophomore Lucila Grinspan to finish off the win.
"We've been really working in practice on turning and stopping and facing the hitter," said Tritschler about her recent defensive prowess. "It's so much easier to dig balls when you're stopped and you can go in any direction. Forty is pretty exciting, though -- I've never done that before."
"It's unbelievable how much Sarah's defense can swing momentum," said Madsen. "There were so many in that match where you could see in their body language where they would think it's down, and Sarah would swoop in with a pancake or a crazy dive and get it back up, and we were able to catch them off guard. It makes such a big difference."
Cal Lutheran had earlier appeared to be on its way to forcing the match to a fifth set, when it led 17-13 in the fourth. The Athenas responded, though, as junior Amanda Walker had four kills in a 5-0 run to put CMS ahead 18-17. Walker had another kill with the score tied 21-21 and an attack error by the Regals gave CMS a two-point advantage. Tritschler then took a point away from Cal Lutheran to set up Madsen's kill, and Grinspan finished it.
VB: Athenas win! This was the 40th (!) dig from Sarah Tritschler (a new career high), turning into a Madsen kill to make it 24-21 in the 4th — which was followed by a Grinspan ace to end it. CMS defeats Cal Lu 3-1. pic.twitter.com/i2zqI2UmMM— CMS Athletics (@AthleticsCMS) October 5, 2018
CMS nearly had a frenetic rally to win it in three sets, as Cal Lutheran led 22-14 in the third before the Athenas converted nine points in a row, two on aces from Grinspan. A kill from sophomore middle Melanie Moore made it 23-22 in favor of the Athenas, and CMS had two match points, before the Regals won the final three in a row for a 28-26 win to keep the match going.
The first set was also tight, as the teams were knotted up 21-21, but freshman Jackie Jones had kills to account for the next three Athena points, and Grinspan finished it off with a kill for a 25-22 win.
Walker finished with 20 kills to lead the Athenas on offense while Jones added 13 and Grinspan had 10. Madsen finished with 46 assists and 17 digs for CMS, and junior Lina Aluzri added 11 digs.
The Athenas will be back in action on Tuesday when they welcome in Pomona-Pitzer for a 7 p.m. contest at Roberts Pavilion.