LA VERNE, Calif. – The No. 5 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team battled back from a 2-0 hole to take a 3-2 road win at La Verne and clinch the regular season SCIAC title outright on Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale.
Set scores were 22-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-17, 15-10 as CMS improves to 24-3 overall and 15-1 in the SCIAC, finishing one game ahead of Chapman and picking up its 11th win in a row. The Athenas would have had the tiebreaker with Chapman if the two teams ended up even, but the win enables CMS to claim the outright championship during the regular season.
Senior Phoebe Madsen had her second straight triple-double and seventh of the season with 11 kills, 27 assists and 15 digs, while senior Amanda Walker led the Athenas in kills with 15 and senior libero Sarah Tritschler finished with 25 digs. Junior middle Melanie Moore chipped in with 10 kills and five blocks, sophomore Jackie Jones had nine, junior Regan Dinovitz had eight, and first-year Sonia Bliss provided a lift with seven kills.
CMS won the third and fourth sets to get back even at 2-2, but La Verne seized the early momentum in the third set with the first three points. CMS responded, though, with a 7-0 run, tying it on a service ace from first-year setter Spencer Hagenbuch, and going ahead 4-3 on a kill from junior middle Melanie Moore. Two straight kills from Bliss stretched the run to 7-3 before La Verne finally ended the skid with a kill.
La Verne hung close and had the score at 10-7, before Walker had two kills in a row to make the score 12-7 and force La Verne to use its last timeout. Walker combined with Madsen on a block to make the score 13-7, Dinovitz had a kill to make it 14-8, and after the Leopards fought off two match points, Walker finished it off with her 15th kill to give CMS the comeback win.
The Athenas trailed 2-0, but found their stride after the brief five-minute intermission. CMS took a 10-5 lead on a kill from senior Amanda Walker to force an early La Verne timeout, and then used a 4-0 run to go ahead 20-13, with Walker contributing three kills and a block during the spurt. A kill from Moore made the score 24-18, and after La Verne fought off two set points, CMS took it on a service error to close the gap to 2-1.
The fourth set was deadlocked 7-7 before CMS scored five straight points to pull ahead 12-7, with Madsen tallying the final two kills in the run. CMS maintained a comfortable lead the rest of the set, and capped it off at 25-17 on a block from junior Regan Dinovitz and first-year Sonia Bliss to knot the score at two sets apiece.
CMS got off to a sluggish start and fell behind 2-0 after dropping the first two sets by identical 25-22 scores. CMS led 14-12 in the first set before a 7-0 La Verne run put the Leopards ahead 19-14. A kill from Madsen had CMS within 23-20, but Jasmine Chandler finished it off with a kill for a 25-22 win.
The Athenas fell behind 9-2 in the second set, but came all the way back to tie the score 17-17 on a kill from junior middle Melanie Moore. A kill from Walker knotted the score again at 22-22, but La Verne rattled off the final three points for a 25-22 win and a 2-0 lead, capped by a block from Rylee Callen and Pi'ikea Clemens.
CMS will begin postseason action on Thursday night for the SCIAC semifinals at Roberts Pavilion, where the Athenas will face La Verne again for the right to move on to Saturday's finals. CMS would have home court advantage in the championship match against the Chapman-Cal Lutheran winner if it advances.