It was a tale of two SCIAC games for the Athena volleyball team this weekend. After easily defeating Whittier College (9-5, 2-3 SCIAC) in three straight sets on Friday, Sept. 25, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (12-4, 2-2) was given a taste of its own medicine by California Lutheran University (14-2, 4-0), who took the first three sets against the Athenas on Saturday, Sept. 26.
On Friday, CMS took an early lead on Whittier and continued to build on it the entire night. The Athenas had contributions from a wide variety of players during the game, with all but one member of the roster recording a dig. The Athenas dominated the second set even more, racing out to a 6-1 lead and at one point leading 20-6. CMS's defense was stronger than ever in the second set, and never allowed Whittier to string together two straight points. Whittier provided some drama in the third set when they got out to a 9-4 lead. However, the Athenas quickly answered back, as outside hitter Crystal Anderson CM '18 and libero Mikena Werner SC '18 both strung together long runs on their serves. CMS held onto the lead to take the third set 25-19 and the match three sets to none.
Anderson and outside hitter Nicole Kerkhof CM '17 led the offense for the team, each tallying 10 kills on the night, while Werner was the Athena's leader in digs, with nine in the match. As a team, CMS was able to hold Whittier to a .000 hitting percentage on the night, forcing as many errors as kills.
“We felt good about how our team performed in the Whittier game,” Kerkhof said. “We accomplished the goals we set: playing our system of a fast offense and serving the other team off the court.”
Saturday's heavily anticipated SCIAC match against No. 7 Cal Lutheran turned out to be dominated by the Regals. The first set was back-and-forth between the Athenas and Regals, with neither team able to build more than a five-point lead. Cal Lutheran took control after a timeout late in the set, scoring three straight points to put the set away 25-22. The Regals carried the momentum of their first-set win into the rest of the match. Cal Lutheran took the second set by a score of 25-14 and carried a 6-0 run in the third set to a match victory.
The Athenas were outplayed both offensively and defensively, as Cal Lutheran tallied more digs, blocks and kills than CMS. Kerkhof and middle blocker Mariah Rigg CM '18 led the team in kills with eight and seven, respectively, while Werner had the most digs on the team. Cal Lutheran posted an impressive .313 kill percentage, holding the Athenas to a .097 clip.
“The loss against Cal Lu was an eye-opener for the team and the coaches,” outside hitter Shelbi Stein CM '18 said. “It brought to light some things that we need to work on, both on and off the court, and made us all understand how hard we were going to have to work to achieve the success that we so badly desire.”
Stein noted that despite the losses, the team is looking forward to what is coming next.
“With the second round of conference play coming around in just a few weeks, we are going to have to focus on our game and play to the level that we all know we are capable of,” she said.
CMS takes on Occidental College (2-7, 1-4) at home on Friday night at 7:30 p.m,, followed by a match against Chapman University (7-5, 4-2) on Saturday at 2 p.m., where the Athenas will look to push their SCIAC record above .500.