The No. 24 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s volleyball team
found out on Monday that they received an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III
Women’s Volleyball Championship, extending the CMS Athenas’ already successful
season in which they finished 24-6 overall and 11-5 in SCIAC. The Athenas will
compete in the Emory Regional in Atlanta, Ga., starting Friday with a matchup
against Thomas More College of Kentucky.
Even though California Lutheran University defeated CMS in
three straight sets in the SCIAC championship game last Saturday, Nov. 9, to secure the
conference’s automatic bid, CMS was rewarded for its strong play all season
long and received its fifth NCAA bid in program history and its first since 1997. Ranked
in the top 25 nationally and in the top three in the West Region for most of
the season, CMS had a strong possibility of making the playoffs; it was
really a matter of finding out their regional bracket. Eight teams will be
competing at the Emory Regional, including host No. 6 Emory University and No.
11 Colorado College.
The Athenas have played well all season and have been led by
four core players. Outside hitter Nicole Kerkhoff CM ’17, who was recently named
the SCIAC Freshman of the Year, has led the way for the Athenas all season long.
Kerkhof led the team in kills (426), kills per set (4.3), points (472) and
double-doubles (12). Audrey Breitwieser CM ’16, a Second-Team All-SCIAC
selection, was CMS’s second major threat at the net, finishing only behind
Kerkhof in kills with 363. Both of these powerful hitters relied on setter Hilary
Bruegl SC ’14 and libero Megan Coleman CM ’15, both First-Team All-SCIAC
selections, to play solid defense behind them and set up their potent offense. Bruegl
led the team in assists with 705 on the year and Coleman led the team in digs
with 536. These four players will need to continue to play at a high level for
CMS to have a chance to move out of regional play.
Their game against Thomas More starts at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 15. If
the Athenas win, they will play the winner of the Colorado College/Maryville
College match-up on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Regional Finals are slated for Sunday at 2 p.m.