Athenas Take Down No. 2 Ranked Team in Country

Coming
off a disappointing loss against University of La Verne, The
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s volleyball team came back strong
with two consecutive wins against Whittier College and California
Lutheran University.

On
Friday, Oct. 17, the Athenas (19-5, 10-2 SCIAC) took the court against La Verne (18-3, 10-2 SCIAC) for the second time
this season, eager to bring home another win against the team. But CMS
ultimately came up short, losing 3-2 (17-25, 16-25, 25-23, 15-13). The Athenas
took an early lead, winning the first two sets, but they were unable to maintain their momentum and the relentless Leopards dragged CMS into a lengthy five-set match.

The Athenas came out strong in the
first set, capitalizing on ULV’s 11 errors. Margaux Arntson CM ’18 recorded a
kill with each of her three attacks, carrying the team to an easy 25-17 win.
CMS was able to maintain this momentum in the second set, cruising to a 25-16
win.

Between the second and third sets,
La Verne caught a second wind and committed to rallying back into the match. In
the third set alone, the Leopards dominated with five team blocks, minimizing
their own errors while the Athenas racked up an astounding 11 in the set.

The fourth was tight until the end,
when the Leos won three straight points off a of 23-22 CMS lead to take another
set away from the Athenas. Tensions ran high in the fifth match, tied at 13
points each until La Verne won two straight points to ultimately win 15-13 and take
home a win.

“La Verne is a good team this year, so you have
to give them credit,” Coach Kurt Vlasich said. “They play hard, play physical and put pressure on you to execute. At the end of the day, it came down to
small details rather than big points. But you need to turn the page and look
forward rather than dwell on the loss.”

Despite the loss, the Athenas took
the court with tenacity the following night, beating Whittier (7-14, 5-7 SCIAC) in three straight
sets (25-15, 25-18, 25-14).

CMS had seen Whittier once before
this season, in a game which also resulted in a win for the Athenas. But this time,
CMS stepped up their game and executed. The three sets were characterized by
long rallies with a combined seven blocks for CMS.

Audrey Breitwieser CM ’16 led the
Athenas with an impressive 12 kills, along with Megan Coleman CM ’15, who had 18
digs in the three sets.

“Whittier was a match that we felt needed to be a
statement,” Vlasich said. “We couldn’t
let the lingering thoughts of the ULV match creep in. In this type of
conference, it is never the loss, but the recovery that matters most.”

CMS maintained their momentum,
beating the Cal Lutheran Regals  (21-2, 10-1 SCIAC) 3-2 in an epic Tuesday night match. CMS took
the first two games, the Regals rallied and earned the next two but the Athenas
ultimately claimed the game in the fifth, beating Cal Lu for the first time
since 2009 (25-21, 25-21, 20-25, 23-25, 15-12).

The Athenas began the game with a fiery
intensity not yet seen this season. In the first set CMS recorded 14 kills, the
highest hitting percentage of the match. After a kill from Mariah Rigg CM ’18,
the Athena’s lengthy, nine-point advantage (19-10) set proved to be too much for
the Regals, and CMS took the set.

The Athenas went on to win the
second set by breaking away from the Regals after being tied at 20-20. Nicole
Kerkhof CM ’17 had the last three kills of the set, assisted by Clara Madsen
CM ’18 .

The fire alarm inadvertently
interrupted the third set of the game, which was won by CLU along with the fourth
set, 25-20 and 23-25.

Despite losing two consecutive sets, the Athenas rallied back in the fifth, winning the set and the match after a
run on Tanner Hoke’s CM ’16 serve.

The Athenas handed the Regals their
first conference loss since Sept. 29, 2012, breaking a 39 SCIAC win streak.
This is the highest-ranked opponent CMS has beaten since late 2008 when they
knocked off No. 1 Juniata College at a tournament hosted by La Verne.

“After
our wins over Whittier and Cal Lu, I feel like we definitely further
established our identity as a team,” Hoke said. “We’re all really excited to
play Pomona-Pitzer with this newfound identity. They’re a great team with great
players, and we think it’s going to be a fun atmosphere to play in.”

Excited to
continue their streak, the Athenas face their Sixth Street Rival, Pomona-Pitzer
(15-8, 7-4 SCIAC) Friday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in the Rains Center.

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