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CMS Volleyball Roars Back After Dropping First Set for 3-1 win Over Aurora in NCAA Opener

WAVERLY, Iowa – Jenna Holmes had 20 kills and 10 digs, and Dede Carranza had 30 digs as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team bounced back in strong fashion after dropping the first set to take a 3-1 win over Aurora (20-25, 25-14, 25-15, 25-15) in the first round of the NCAA Division III Championships on Friday afternoon at Wartburg College.

With the win, CMS improves to 28-1 on the year and advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season. The Athenas next play tomorrow in the regional semifinals against Bethel, which defeated Wisconsin-Stevens Point 3-0 in its opening match on Friday. That regional semi match will be held tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. (PST) with the winner moving on to play in Sunday's regional championship at 12 p.m. (PST).

CMS won the national title in 2017, even though it dropped the first set in each of its first four wins of that tournament, and it did the same this afternoon by falling 25-20 in the first. It didn't take long for the Athenas to regroup as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second set. Jackie Jones and Melanie Williams started out with kills, Jones and Kelsey Polhemus had a block, Georgia McGovern had an ace, and Williams had a solo block to make it a 5-0 lead.

A Spencer Hagenbuch ace made the score 12-4, and Brenna Bell and Holmes had two straight kills to stretch it to 14-5. CMS maintained control the rest of the way, and leveled the score at 1-1 when Audrey Sawyer had a kill for a 25-14 win.

CMS broke open the third set with a 5-0 run to take a 13-6 lead, with Holmes providing two points on consecutive aces, and Hagenbuch adding a kill on a fake set. Aurora closed to within 17-11 with three straight points, but Brenna Bell snapped the run with a kill and then finished off the set with a kill for a 25-15 win and a 2-1 CMS lead.  

In the fourth set, CMS used a 5-0 run to take a 7-2 lead and force a quick Aurora timeout, behind two kills from Holmes and one from Sawyer. The Spartans earned the next point, but the Athenas rattled off six more in a row, including two Hagenbuch aces and two Bell kills, and the Athenas were able to coast the rest of the way for the 3-1 win. Holmes had two straight kills for the 23rd and 24th CMS points, and Sawyer finished it off with a kill for a 25-15 fourth set.   

Melanie Williams finished with 12 kills for CMS, while Hagenbuch had 24 assists, 14 digs, and four aces, and Polhemus had five blocks.  

CMS will face No. 21 Bethel tomorrow for its eighth match against a national ranked team this season. The Athenas are 6-1 so far against ranked teams, including wins over the No. 1 (Trinity) and No. 2 (Emory) ranked teams at the time on the same day at the East-West Battle at Cal Lutheran in September. The only loss was a road defeat to No. 6 Calvin on Oct. 23.