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CMS Prevails in Five Sets to Earn Fourth Straight SCIAC Tournament Title

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Tournament Most Outstanding Player Jenna Holmes had 20 kills, as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team battled back from a 2-1 deficit to win the 2021 SCIAC Tournament championship in five sets over Chapman on Saturday afternoon at Roberts Pavilion.

Set scores were 25-16, 22-25, 19-25, 25-16, 15-6 as CMS improves to 27-1 overall and will earn the SCIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship, after winning its fourth league tournament title in a row (2017-19, and 2021 with a one-year hiatus). Chapman ends its season with a 13-13 record with the defeat. 

Melanie Williams added 14 kills for CMS, and Jackie Jones had 11, including the one on match point, while Brenna Bell had a big day off the bench with 10 kills in 22 attempts. Georgia McGovern had 38 assists and Spencer Hagenbuch had 20, while Lauren Parker contributed to seven of the 15 CMS blocks. 

CMS fell behind 2-1 to Chapman for the second time in the last two weeks, after the Panthers pushed the Athenas to five sets in the final week of the regular season. It was the closest that CMS came to a league defeat on its way to its first-ever perfect regular season in league. 

After the Athenas tied the match at 2-2, though, they dominated the fifth set to come away with the title. After Chapman tied the score early 1-1, CMS rattled off nine straight points to take any of the drama out of the late points. Williams started the run with a kill, and back-to-back kills from Holmes made it 6-1 and forced Chapman into a time out. Isabel Yau-Weeks followed with an ace that hit the tape and carried over, and Williams and Holmes finished off the run with kills. 

Audrey Sawyer had a kill to set up match point at 14-5, and after the Panthers fought off the first one, Jones finished off the match and the championship with her 11th kills, setting off the championship celebration. 

CMS was in a tight battle early in the fourth set, with Chapman eyeing a possible 3-1 win, but Hagenbuch started a key run when she dumped a kill on a fake set to put CMS up 10-8. Jones and Dani Beder combined on a block to stretch it to 11-8, Beder and Holmes had two straight kills to make it 14-9, and Sawyer capped off a 4-0 run to put CMS ahead 18-10, before it captured a 25-16 win on a Jones kill. 

CMS hit .556 in the fifth set with 11 kills in 18 attempts, finishing off a match in which it hit .260. Dede Carranza led the defense with 19 digs. 

The Athenas will find out their NCAA Division III Tournament destination when the pairings are announced on Monday. CMS won the 2017 national championship, and advanced to the second round in 2018 and 2019.