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CMS Advances to SCIAC Championship with 3-1 Win Over Cal Lutheran

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team advanced to the SCIAC Championship match for the eighth straight season, coming back from a first-set loss to defeat Cal Lutheran 3-1 in the semifinals on Thursday evening at Roberts Pavilion.

Set scores were 19-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-17 as the Athenas improve to 26-1 on the season and move on to Saturday's finals, when they will host Chapman at 4 p.m. at Roberts Pavilion. CMS reached the championship match in seven straight seasons from 2013-19 (meeting Cal Lutheran in the finals the first six times), before no championship was held in 2020 due to the pandemic. Cal Lutheran sees its season come to a close at 11-17 overall on the year. 

Jenna Holmes and Jackie Jones each had 14 kills to lead CMS, with Jones adding 15 digs and Holmes 13 as they both had double-doubles. Dede Carranza had 28 digs to lead the defense, while Georgia McGovern had 31 assists and 12 digs. 

The pivotal sequence in the match came late in the second set, as Cal Lutheran held a 1-0 lead and was looking to go up by two sets and put heavy pressure on the Athenas. A Maci Haddad kill tied up the second set at 23-23, but Holmes and Jones came back with two straight clutch kills to give CMS a 25-23 second set win, and get the match level at 1-1. 

The third set was tight most of the way, but CMS used a 4-0 run to turn a 17-16 lead into a 21-16 advantage. Melanie Williams started the run with a kill, Holmes added a kill and Spencer Hagenbuch capped it off with an ace. Cal Lutheran was still within 22-18, but Audrey Sawyer had a kill and the Regals had two straight errors to finish off the set and give the Athenas a 2-1 lead. 

The Regals came out fighting in the fourth and led 11-8 as they tried to get back even in the match and force it to a fifth. Jones had two straight kills, though, to get the Athenas within 11-10, and Williams and Holmes had kills in a 4-0 run to put CMS in front 14-12. 

The Athenas then put the match away with seven straight points, stretching a 17-16 lead into a commanding 24-16 advantage. Sawyer and Jones had kills, and Sawyer followed with a solo block to make the score 20-16. After a timeout, Holmes had an ace, and Brenna Bell and Jones had kills to cap off the run. Cal Lutheran fought off one match point, but Sawyer finished it off with a kill off a feed from Hagenbuch. 

CMS and Chapman will meet for the SCIAC title for the second straight time, after the Athenas won the 2019 championship by a 3-0 final, avenging their only loss of the SCIAC regular season. This time around, CMS went 16-0 in SCIAC for the first undefeated league season in program history, with Chapman providing the toughest challenge just last week, taking a 2-1 lead on CMS before the Athenas battled back to win it in five sets.