CMS Starts Strong in SCIAC Play With Three Victories

With a tough schedule looming on the horizon, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team (12-3, 3-0 SCIAC) prepared by clinching their first three conference wins this past week.

CMS began with a win in their home opener vs. the California Institute of Technology (0-8, 0-3 SCIAC) on Sept. 19. They held the Beavers to just six and five points in the first two sets before getting the 25-12 win in the third, with significant contributions from underclassmen players. 

Quinn Morrison SC ’17 put down nine kills, while Shelbi Stein CM ’18 played an all-around game with nine kills, nine digs and six service aces. Crystal Anderson CM ’18 added 10 kills with no hitting errors.

Head coach Kurt Vlasich is very proud of the group of athletes he has brought in this season.

“They are setting a tone that they want to be in this for the long haul," Vlasich said. 

On Sept. 20, the Athenas picked up another win at University of La Verne (8-2, 3-1 SCIAC). After losing the first set 19-25, CMS came back to win the next two matches 25-16 and 25-1, before falling short by three points in the fourth set.

With the combined attack of Anderson and captain Audrey Breitwieser CM ’16, the Athenas then crushed the Leopards 15-4 in the fifth set.

Breitwieser led the offensive attack with 18 kills in the match. Margaux Arntson CM ’18 added 13 and Stein and Mariah Rigg CM ’18 added eight and seven, respectfully.

“This weekend was a character-building match for us,” Breitwieser said. “I think we did a great job expecting the unexpected and working through some adversity.”

The Athenas saw an even offensive attack Sept. 23 in their 3-1 win over Whittier (2-7, 1-2 SCIAC). Anderson, Breitwieser, Arntson and Nicole Kerkhof CM ’17 each had 11 kills in the match.

Looking ahead to their Friday game against California Lutheran University, the Athenas will have to make use all of these weapons to get through the block.

It’s no secret that this team, while very young, creates an aura of competitive greatness that shines at every practice. As shown so far this season, they have offensive threats in every position as well as a core group of defensive specialists.

“The competition in the gym is so intense,” Vlasich said. “It’s been really fun for us coaches to watch our players compete for starting spots.”

Despite all the competition for playing time, the team still believes in strengthening their chemistry and encouraging each other to be at their best for the chance to compete at the NCAA tournament. So far, the first-year class has shown that they are here to compete, and their enthusiasm is backed by strong support from the returners.

“The biggest challenge for me this year is moving beyond what I can do for myself and focusing on helping my teammates be the best they can be as well,” Breitwieser said.

As the Athenas continue to work with each other in practice and compete hard in games, they feel ready for the next challenge. CMS, ranked No. 19, faces No. 2 California Lutheran (13-1, 2-0 SCIAC) today, Sept. 26, in a game that will surely test their commitment to competition and performance.

“It’s important to remember that we are still the underdogs, and while other people may see us as a threat, we can’t get too confident,” Breitwieser said. “Even though we are ranked we have to see every match as a challenge and never go into [a game] too complacent.”

Tomorrow, the Athenas will host the rivalry game against Pomona-Pitzer (7-5, 1-2 SCIAC), a match that everyone is amped up for, especially the first-years.

“I’m excited to be in that environment and experience the competitiveness of each of those games and see how our team reacts to each situation,” Anderson said.

The game will take place at Harvey Mudd’s Linde Activities Center at 6 p.m.