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CMS tied the school record for wins in a season (photo by Ricky Bassman)
CMS tied the school record for wins in a season (photo by Ricky Bassman)

CMS Volleyball Postseason Run Ends in NCAA Semis With 3-1 Defeat to Calvin

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Jenna Holmes had 18 kills, but the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team came up two wins short of its quest for the second national title in program history, falling 3-1 to Calvin in the NCAA Division III Semifinals on Friday evening at Washington University in Saint Louis.

With the loss, CMS concludes its season with a 31-2 record, tying the program record for wins in a season and breaking the record for best winning percentage. The Athenas also had the second-deepest NCAA Tournament run in program history, behind only the 2017 team, which won the national title with a 31-5 record. Both of the CMS losses this season came to Calvin, as the Athenas also fell to the Knights in a road match at Calvin on Oct. 22.

The teams split the first two sets, with the Athenas holding on for a 25-23 win in the second set to level the match at 1-1. The third and fourth sets then both followed similar formulas, with CMS seizing the early momentum to build a six-point lead, but Calvin battling back in the middle of the set to pull ahead. 

In the third set, CMS took an 11-5 lead on a kill from Brenna Bell and felt like it had the match swinging in its favor after the tight win the second. The Knights, though, responded with a 6-0 run to tie the score up at 11-11, and then went ahead 15-12 to cap a 10-1 run. 

CMS, though, responded in kind and went back ahead 19-18 after two straight Holmes kills. A Summer Ellis kill put CMS ahead 21-20, before Calvin came back wtih four straight points to earn a 24-21 lead. Ellis had a kill to help CMS get back within 24-23, but Heidi Westra's kill put the Knights ahead 2-1 with a 25-23 win. 

The fourth set saw CMS come out on fire and take a 6-1 lead, which extended to six-point advantages on three occasions, the last at 12-6. Calvin used a 4-0 run to pull closer at 12-10, and the Athenas felt like they had the answer after Kelsey Polhemus and Izzy Sakoda combined on a block, and Holmes followed with a kill. Calvin, though, used another 6-0 to take a 17-15 lead, and after Audrey Sawyer had a block to tie it 18-18, Calvin earned seven of the last eight points to take a 25-19 fourth set and win the match 3-1.  

After falling behind 1-0, CMS used a 5-0 run in the second set to pull ahead 15-9, with Jackie Jones contributing two kills during the spurt. The Athenas led 21-14, and withstood a late run from Calvin to get within 22-21, as Kelsey Polhemus had a big kill, and a servive error from Calvin capped the set 25-23.

Audrey Sawyer had 11 kills for the Athenas, as she set a new program record for hitting percentage in a season at .381, breaking the old mark of .355 held by Melanie Moore in 2017. Spencer Hagenbuch had 23 assists and 12 digs for the Athenas, while Polhemus had a team-high four blocks. 

CMS will be in great position to build off its success from this season, as it graduates only two seniors, Makenna Fall and Melanie Williams. Fall was the starting libero before being lost for the season to an injury in early October, while Williams started all season and earned second-team All-America honors.