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Kelsey Polhemus had 7 kills in 9 attempts for CMS (photo by Ricky Bassman)
Kelsey Polhemus had 7 kills in 9 attempts for CMS (photo by Ricky Bassman)

Top-Ranked CMS Volleyball Fights Off Whittier for 3-0 Sweep in SCIAC Opener

WHITTIER, Calif. – Kelsey Polhemus had seven kills in nine attempts, including five in the third set, as the top-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team opened SCIAC play with a 3-0 win (25-13, 25-22, 25-20) over Whittier on Tuesday evening.

With the win, the Athenas now stand at 11-0 on the year and 1-0 in the SCIAC, extending their conference winning streak to 28 in a row (32 including the SCIAC Tournament), dating back to a 3-2 loss to Chapman in 2019. CMS won the final 11 SCIAC matches in 2019, then went 16-0 in league play for the first time ever a year ago. Whittier falls to 4-6 with the loss, and starts SCIAC play 0-1.

The first set saw CMS use an early 5-0 run to take control, turning a 5-4 lead into a 10-4 advantage. Polhemus started the run with a kill, and Brooke McKee capped it off with a kill.  Whittier closed to within 12-8, but another quick 4-0 spurt from the Athenas, capped off by a service ace from Izzy Sakoda, pushed the lead to 16-8. Two Audrey Sawyer kills sandwiched around a Dede Carranza ace capped off the set, with CMS taking it 25-13.

The second set saw Sakoda earn two kills and an ace in an opening 5-1 run. Whittier kept it close, though, and were within 19-17 late in the set, before Sakoda had a kill to start a quick 3-0 run. McKee and Sawyer combined on a block to make it 24-19, and the Poets fought off three set points, before Bell finished it off with a kill for a 25-22 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.   

Whittier opened the third set with its best stretch of the match, taking a 4-0 lead before Bell got the Athenas on the board with another kill. Polhemus had three kills in a 5-1 run to get CMS back level at 7-7, but the Poets answered back to restore a four-point lead at 13-9. With the score 17-13, Polhemus again came up big with two straight kills to start a 6-1 run, capped off by two straight kills from McKee, as the Athenas took their first lead of the set at 19-18. With the score 21-20, Sawyer had a kill and a block, and after a Whittier error, Jackie Jones finished off the win with a kill.

In addition to Polhemus hitting .667, Sawyer had eight kills in 18 attempts for a .389 percentage, as the two middles were efficient on a day when the Athenas weren't clicking quite as well as normal, finishing with a .237 hitting percentage (after coming in hitting .319). Sawyer, McKee and Holmes all tied for team-high honors with eight kills, while Holmes added a team-high 17 digs and Carranza had 13. Georgia McGovern finished with 20 assists, and Spencer Hagenbuch had 16.

CMS will be back in action at home for the first time since its season opening tournament on Sept. 2-3, when it takes on Occidental on Friday night for a 7 p.m. contest at Roberts Pavilion.