On Tuesday, Oct. 18, the University of La Verne Leopards (19-4, 10-2 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference), became the only team to best the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas (18-1, 10-1 SCIAC). Coming into the game, the Athenas had an 18-0 win streak and were ranked No. 1 in SCIAC and No. 2 in the nation. The renowned Athenas came out ahead with a quick two set lead, but the Leopards continued to build momentum until they handily won the fifth set 15-10.
In the first two sets, CMS had a combined hitting percentage of 0.326, while La Verne’s hitting percentage was 0.147. The Leopards' serving errors, along with Shelbi Stein CM ’18’s two quick kills, helped the Athenas jump out ahead early with a 5-1 lead. Then, Stein and Nicole Kerkhof CM ’17 combined for 11 kills and only one hitting error in the first set. La Verne came back and made runs toward CMS, but the Leopards could not catch up.
In the second set, the Athenas were once again ahead early, but La Verne built up their momentum to slowly rise to the occasion by crucial kills from junior Marisa Rojo and seniors Kelsi Robinson and Cassie Thompson, who kept the lead close.
Meanwhile, Stein, once again, went on a roll at the end of the second set for CMS with five kills in six points, the fifth kill clinching the set win for the Athenas. After the first two sets, Stein’s hitting percentage was 0.452.
In the third and fourth set, CMS’ percentage was 0.178, while La Verne improved their percentage to 0.292. CMS lost their edge during the third set and had a few miscommunications within the team that cost them some key points. In the third set, CMS had six errors, while La Verne only had two, which made the difference between a win and a loss for the Athenas: The Leopards won 26-24.
CMS seemed to get a little flustered during the fourth set and made crucial unforced errors with attacking and ball-handling, which caused them to drop the set 25-21.
In the fifth set, sophomore outside hitter Delaney Lynch and senior setter Tiffany Mancuso peaked at the right time to help the Leopards go on a 7-point run to stretch their lead to 11-5 which they would never relinquish.
Despite the disappointing loss, CMS has not fallen from their No. 1 ranking in SCIAC and maintain a No. 1 regional National Collegiate Athletic Association ranking as well. They next play No. 4 ranked California Lutheran University on Friday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m.