The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) women’s volleyball team (9-5, 2-1 SCIAC) played their first SCIAC home game of the season on Friday, Sept. 22. Resounding cheers from CMS supporters echoed in the Roberts Pavilion gym as the Athenas defeated the La Verne Leopards (9-2, 3-1 SCIAC) in a three-set sweep.
“That might have been the happiest I’ve been so far this season,” said CMS head coach Kurt Vlasich when asked to rate the team’s performance. “It was a really clean match on our end. We did a lot of work to prepare for La Verne, who’s always a tough opponent.”
From an early 3-2 deficit in the first set, the Athenas went on a five-point run to claim a lead that would not be relinquished as they dominated all three sets (25-16, 25-12, and 25-12). “We knew they were going to come out hot, and I thought we weathered that pretty well and took advantage of them and executed a fabulous game plan,” Vlasich added.
Although every facet of the team’s game seemed to be clicking throughout the match, Vlasich pointed to two specific areas where he thought the Athenas were particularly strong. “You can look at the stat sheet and there’s a bunch of areas that stand out, and really I think our blocking is what came into play,” he said. “We ended up with more than 20 team blocks on the evening … If there’s another category that I was really happy with, it was probably the serving. Our serving really kept them off balance and they couldn’t get into a rhythm.”
Overall, CMS put together an extremely impressive and clean statistical game. The team finished with 40 kills, a .368 hitting percentage and a season-best 24 blocks, all in a relatively quick three-set match. Margot Mafra Spencer SC ’21 led the way with nine kills, while Mariah Rigg CM ’18, Margaux Arntson CM ’18, and Melanie Moore CM ’21 chipped in with six blocks apiece.
The first two sets followed a similar pattern in which the opening stages were tightly contested before a crucial mid set run gave the Athenas an insurmountable lead. They were able to hold these leads to clinch the sets, eventually cruising to a 25-12 win in the third and final set.
Vlasich explained how a strong team effort was key in clinching the victory. “There are probably some players that did outstanding, but I think that what stands out to me was how good everybody was on the stat sheet,” he said. “In our locker room, I was making the comment that there was no standout performance because everybody performed at such a high level.”
The Athenas followed up their dismantling of La Verne with a a heartbreaking five-set loss to loss to Chapman, the only undefeated team left in the SCIAC (10-3, 5-0 SCIAC) the next day, in which CMS blew a two set and 21-14 lead in the third.
The Athenas will hit the road for three competitive SCIAC teams this week, starting with the Occidental Tigers (6-6, 1-2 SCIAC) Friday, Sept. 29, and the Whittier Poets (9-4, 3-2 SCIAC) Saturday. CMS will then head to Thousand Oaks to take on the Cal Lutheran Regals (6-8, 2-3 SCIAC) Tuesday.