CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team was close to its sixth straight 3-0 sweep, but settled for a 3-1 win over Whittier in its regular season home finale on Friday evening at Roberts Pavilion.
Set scores were 25-20, 26-24, 26-28, 25-21 as the Athenas improve to 23-3 overall and 14-1 in the SCIAC with the win. CMS came in with the regular season title and home court advantage in the SCIAC Tournament already wrapped up, but was still looking to solidify its No. 6 national ranking and its resume to potentially host an NCAA regional on Nov. 9-11. Whittier slips to 15-12 overall and 8-7 in the SCIAC with the loss.
Junior outside hitter Amanda Walker (pictured) led the way for CMS with 17 kills, including the one to end the match at 24-21 in the fourth. Sophomore middle Melanie Moore added 15 kills in 30 attempts, while sophomore outside hitter Lucila Grinspan had 13 kills and 17 digs for a double-double. Junior setter Phoebe Madsen had a solid all-around effort with 48 assists, 11 digs and eight kills, while junior libero Sarah Tritschler chipped in with 26 kills and sophomore middle Regan Dinovitz had six blocks.
CMS coasted to a relatively easy 25-20 win in the first set, but the Poets jumped in front 6-1 in the second and maintained a lead most of the way. With the Poets up 22-17, though, CMS rattled off four straight points to close the gap. Whittier earned the next two points for a 24-21 lead, but CMS responded with five in a row to steal the set, as Walker had two kills and a block in succession to tie it 24-24, and after a Whittier error, sophomore Margot Mafra Spencer had an ace in the corner to give the Athenas the 26-24 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Whittier flipped the script in the third set, though, just as it seemed CMS was on its way to its sixth sweep in a row. The Athenas held a 21-16 lead, and a Moore kill made the score 23-19, leaving the Athenas just two points away from a 3-0 win. The Poets dug down with their backs to the wall and rattled off the next five points, with Franki Piloto earning a kill to make the score 24-23. Dinovitz and Mafra Spencer combined on a block to take away the first set point, and a Walker kill tied it 26-26, but the Poets earned the next two points to finally win it 28-26 on a Kathea Schamblin kill.
CMS jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the fourth on a Grinspan kill, but Whittier again had an answer, going on a 6-0 run to pull in front. The Athenas took the lead back at 16-15 on a Dinovitz kill and then went ahead 23-19 on a Madsen ace, with Tritschler's defense having a key role as well, including two "pancake" digs on the same point. Whittier earned two points in a row to close to 23-21 but Dinovitz had a kill to make it 24-21, and Madsen had a diving dig to keep the next point alive, resulting in a kill from Walker to end the set 25-21 (and the match 3-1).
VB: Here's the winning kill from Amanda Walker, set up when Phoebe Madsen flies in for a dig to keep the point alive. Athenas defeat Whittier 3-1 to move to 23-3 on the year! pic.twitter.com/u8acmiF2bs— CMS Athletics (@AthleticsCMS) October 27, 2018
The defending national champion Athenas, who are now a combined 54-8 over the last two seasons, head into tomorrow's regular season finale at Chapman with a four-game lead for first at 14-1, while Chapman is one of the teams with five losses (10-5) that will be trying to secure a postseason bid with a win. CMS will next be back at Roberts Pavilion on Thursday night at 7 p.m. against the SCIAC Tournament's No. 4 seed, which will be determined after tomorrow's play.