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CMS Volleyball Advances to Regional Finals with 3-0 Win over Bethel

WAVERLY, Iowa - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team dominated the first two sets and won a dramatic third as it earned a 3-0 win over No. 21 Bethel (25-17, 25-16, 28-26) to advance to the finals of the NCAA Regionals.

The No. 3 Athenas improve to 29-1 on the season and will advance to meet 29-0 Wartburg, the regional host ranked No. 4 in the nation, which defeated Colorado College in three sets on Saturday to move on to the regional finals. The winner of that match, will be held tomorrow at 12 noon (PST, 2 p.m. local time) will advance to nationals next weekend in Saint Louis, where they will play a quarterfinal match on Thursday at Washington University. 

CMS hit .312 as a team and was led by Melanie Williams with 13 kills, who hit .400 on the day. Jackie Jones added 11 kills and hit .346, while Audrey Sawyer had nine kills on a .474 hitting percentage. 

The Athenas were in control throughout, but had to fight off a strong late challenge from Bethel in the third. CMS led 21-14, but Bethel fought all the way back and overcame two match points to tie it 24-24. A Jones kill gave CMS a third match point at 25-24, and an error gave the Athenas a fourth try at 26-25. Bethel fought that one off again, but Holmes had a kill to make it 27-26 and an error finally gave the Athenas the match. 

CMS methodically pulled away in the first set, turning a 13-9 lead into a 19-11 advantage on a Jones solo block. Bethel got back within 20-15, but Brenna Bell and Jones had back-to-back kills and Sawyer and Williams combined on a block for set point. 

In the second set, CMS was up just 14-13, before an 8-1 run essentially put the set away. Williams and Kelsey Polhemus started a 3-0 run with a block, which was followed by a Williams kill and a Bethel error. After Bethel closed to within 17-14, CMS rattled off five straight points, including a Jenna Holmes kill and solo block, and a Dede Carranza ace. Spencer Hagenbuch had a fake set for a kill to bring up set point, and Sawyer and Bell combined on a block for a 25-16 win and a 2-0 lead. 

Carranza had 18 digs and Holmes had 13 to lead the defense, while Georgia McGovern (24 assists) and Hagenbuch (16) combined to quarterback the offense to efficient numbers. 

CMS will hope to win its third regional championship in its history, after taking first place in regionals in 2014 and 2017. The 2017 squad went on to win the national title, defeating Wittenberg in three sets for the first women's national title in CMS history. The 1993 CMS team also reached the NCAA quarterfinal round with a five-set win over Trinity, although the format was different then with only four teams moving on to nationals, and the Athenas fell in four to UC San Diego in the regional finals.