Volleyball Team Struggles To Contend with CMS

After a brutal couple of weeks in which the Sagehens managed a sole win against last-place Caltech, Pomona-Pitzer volleyball once again fell to the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas after battling against their neighbors to the north. An entertaining match all around, the Sagehens fell in four games 25-15, 25-9, 15-25, 25-17.

As has often been the case for the Sagehens this season, the volleyball team found itself in a hole early in the first game. Before a kill by Ellen Yamasaki PZ ’15, the Athenas jumped out to a 6-1 lead with strong offensive play. On multiple occasions, the Sagehens made attempts to mitigate the CMS lead and, in fact, pulled within three at 7-4. Despite the slow Sagehen start, Michelle Schultz PO ’16—rejuvenated after a 10 day break—hit the ball magnificently and showed potential for the young P-P team. In fact, Schultz finished the game with five kills, contributing a large portion of the offense for the Sagehens. As a whole, CMS outplayed the Sagehens in the first game and took it 25-15.

The second game—from start to finish—was all CMS. After pulling out to an 8-0 lead and forcing a P-P timeout, a Yamasaki kill finally put the Sagehens on the scoreboard. Nothing seemed to be working for the Sagehens as the volleyball team could find little to no momentum to work off of. Eventually up 18-5, CMS quickly pulled away from the Sagehens and ended the suffering for P-P by winning the game with an extremely dominant 25-9.

Yet, the tides drastically turned in the third game, as P-P responded to the Athena dominance with tenacity and quickly took an early 11-2 lead through multiple service aces by Dani Kritter PO ’15 and the continued defensive consistency of libero Lauren Kim PO ’13. A small run by the Athenas eventually narrowed a large Sagehen lead to 18-11, but P-P responded appropriately and maintained their strong play. Consecutive kills by Samantha Cahill PO '15 and a combination block by Cahill and Kritter won the game for the Sagehens 25-15.

Neither team responded with a fast start at the onset of the fourth game, and after 10 points, the game was tied at five points apiece. Up 10-9, CMS used a 3-0 run off of numerous kills to extend their lead to 13-9. The Sagehens never rebounded, and quickly let CMS pull away to claim the game 25-17 and clinch the match for the Athenas.

“We just started the match off slow,” Schultz said, “but we definitely battled and didn’t give in at the end.”

With their seasons nearly complete, our two teams from Claremont have marked distinctively different paths throughout 2012. For the Sagehens, 2012 has been marked by brutal SCIAC losses that quickly pushed the team out of contention for a berth in the conference tournament. With two matches remaining, P-P has amassed four wins with 10 losses in the SCIAC, with two wins coming off of the 1-18 Caltech Beavers.

For the Athenas, this season has been especially productive, with CMS mounting an impressive 8-6 SCIAC record that leaves them in contention for the fourth and final spot in the conference tournament. Saturday’s match against 19-4 La Verne should show the Athenas how ready they are to take on the powerhouse teams of the conference.

Although P-P hasn’t had the most successful of seasons, there is much to look forward for the future. The team’s offense has been led by Schultz and Yamasaki, who will only improve in the next couple of years.

“The exciting thing is that the team is pretty young and has tons of potential; my only regret is that I won't be there to witness them develop and blossom in the next couple of years,” Kim said.

After traveling to University of Redlands on Friday, the Sagehens celebrate the final home match of the season against Chapman on Saturday at 6 p.m.

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