On the weekend of Sept. 30, Voelkel Gymnasium was filled to the brim to watch David challenge Goliath. The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) volleyball team have dominated the Sixth Street rivalry for as long as most anyone can remember, going undefeated against Pomona-Pitzer (P-P) since 2013 and dominating the SCIAC conference for the past five years.
Still, with the power of home court advantage and a 2-2 record in SCIAC play, the Sagehens maintained hope. Unfortunately for the P-P side, CMS women’s volleyball stood tall and took the Sagehens out in a clean 3-0 sweep.
P-P started off strong, taking a 4-0 lead. Kills from Chloe Gill PO ’25, Paige Mountanos PO ’26 and Charlotte Sekerka PO ’27 set the tone early, hoping to ignite an aggressive start for the Sagehens. But CMS didn’t let them lead for long.
The Athenas cracked down on the Sagehens’ 9-5 lead with exceptional defensive efforts from Dede Carranza CM ’26 and Samantha Riter HM ’27, pushing them to a 16-13 lead. P-P called their first time-out in an attempt to slow down CMS’s momentum, but the Athenas were unphased. With an impressive showing from Jenna Holmes CM ’24, who had six kills after the time out, the Athenas took the first set 25-17.
CMS continued their dominance in the second set, kicking it off with a 4-1 lead. However, the Sagehens responded by tying it up at 5-5 with the help of two kills at the net from Chloe Gill PO ’25.
The second set stayed competitive mainly due to errors and rule violations from the CMS side, who committed eleven errors, making up nearly half of the Sagehens’ points. With the possibility of deuce on the horizon, both sides used their timeouts to try to center themselves. P-P had a chance to take a set on CMS for the first time in two Sixth Street matchups, but Jenna Holmes CM ’24 extinguished that hope with a streak of five kills, helping CMS finish with another stellar performance as they won the set 25-23.
The Athenas left no room for hope during the third set, coming out with an early start on the Sagehens 7-1. The set ended 25-10 in favor of CMS, finishing the three set shutout against their cross-campus rivals.
Audrey Sawyer CM ’25 said the energy that came with the rivalry game last Saturday helped ignite the Athenas’ intensity during the match.
“We were able to feed off the energy of the crowd,” Sawyer said. “And that’s something that our team does really well with. We were able to carry that energy and momentum into our game.”
Brook McKee CM ’26, who had 10 kills against P-P, explained what exactly went right in their formula for victory.
“I think both teams did some really great things,” McKee said. “What really helped us win that match was our serving was really tough, our defense was really good, and we executed the game plan our coaches gave us really well.”
According to McKee, the team is working on improving their team communication on and off the court.
“We want to build a strong team atmosphere that allows everyone to play at their best, and allows us to hold each other accountable,” McKee said.
Compared to last year’s early-season rivalry game, the Sagehens kept the game more competitive by putting up a fight in the first two sets. P-P head coach Valerie Townsend put a positive spin on the loss.
“We use this as a learning tool and work on our weaknesses for future matches,” Townsend said. “We can’t dwell on this loss; there is so much more season left and we need to take care of business each and every day.”
This won’t be the last time this season that the Athenas will face the Sagehens, with the teams meeting again on Oct. 21. With the win, CMS is now 5-0 in conference play and 11-3 overall. The team will play in their next game away against fourth-ranked Cal Lutheran on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. For P-P, the loss drops them to 4-2 in conference and 8-9 overall. They will host La Verne on Oct. 7 at 4 p.m.