Cal Lutheran Comes Back to Upset No. 2 CMS Volleyball 3-2

Cal Lutheran Comes Back to Upset No. 2 CMS Volleyball 3-2

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The second-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team suffered only its third loss of the season, as Cal Lutheran rallied from behind to take a 3-2 win over the Athenas in a SCIAC match on Friday evening.  

Set scores were 31-29, 18-25, 14-25, 25-23, 15-10 as CMS had its eight-match win streak snapped, as well as its seven-match win streak in five-setters. The Athenas are now 17-3 on the year and 8-1 in the SCIAC, maintaining a two-game lead over the rest of the conference in the battle for the top seed in next month's postseason tournament. Cal Lutheran improves to 12-9 overall and 6-4 in the conference with the win.

After falling in the first set 31-29, the Athenas appeared to be on their way to the win, controlling the second and third sets and then leading 23-20 in the fourth after a kill from sophomore Lauren Widasky. Cal Lutheran, though, won the next five points in a row to come from behind and force the match to a fifth.

CMS surged ahead 8-5 at the changeover after a kill from sophomore middle Melanie Moore, and then went ahead 9-6 on a Widasky kill, but the Regals went on a 9-1 run to end the match. Cal Lutheran won four straight points to take the lead at 10-9, and after a kill from sophomore middle Regan Dinovitz evened the score, the Regals won the final five points, three coming on blocks, to take the match 3-2.  

The first set saw Cal Lutheran prevail with a lengthy 31-29 victory. The Regals fought off four CMS set points, while the Athenas fought off a pair as well before finally dropping the set. Freshman Jackie Jones had back-to-back kills to erase one of the Cal Lutheran set points and set up one for the Athenas, but the Regals were able to respond and pull out the close win.

CMS bounced back to take a 25-18 win in the second set to level the match at 1-1. The Athenas steadily pulled away, forcing the Regals to take timeouts down 13-10 and 19-13 before building their lead up to as high as eight (23-15). Cal Lutheran rattled off three straight points to make it more interesting, but junior libero Sarah Tritschler had three digs on the next point to help prevent the Regals from getting any closer.

The third set saw CMS take control quickly, pulling ahead 12-4 on a kill from junior setter Phoebe Madsen. Cal Lutheran got as close as five points at 14-9, but two straight kills from junior Amanda Walker helped swing the momentum back, and Moore capped off the set with a kill for a 25-14 win and a 2-1 lead.

Cal Lutheran looked to force the match to a fifth set and built as much as a five-point lead at 16-11, before the Athenas came back after a timeout with a 6-0 run, capped off by a Walker kill, to take the lead.  After going back-and-forth over the next few points, Moore and Madsen combined on a block to make the score 21-19 and force Cal Lutheran to use its final timeout. Moore had a tip kill coming out of the timeout to stretch it to 22-19, and Widasky had one to make it 23-20 before Cal Lutheran rallied back with the next five points to take the match to a fifth set.  

Walker finished with a team-high 19 kills for the Athenas, while Moore had 17 kills and only two errors for a .366 hitting percentage. Madsen had a career-high 61 assists and matched her career-best with 22 digs in the losing effort, while Tritschler had 28 digs and eight assists. Maci Haddad had 14 kills and 10 blocks for Cal Lutheran, and had a hand in the final five points for the Regals, with two kills and three assisted blocks. 

CMS is back in action tomorrow at home, when it takes on La Verne for a 4 p.m. contest at Roberts Pavilion. The first meeting between the teams went a full five sets, with the Athenas winning it 15-13 in the fifth on a Melanie Moore kill.