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CMS celebrating the dramatic third-set win (photo by Stella Cheng)
CMS celebrating the dramatic third-set win (photo by Stella Cheng)

Third-Set Comeback Gives CMS Volleyball Dramatic Sweep of UT Dallas

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team improved to 30-0 with its 26th three-set sweep, but it had to work hard for it, coming back from a 20-11 deficit in the third for a 25-23, 25-10, 29-27 win over UT Dallas in the NCAA Regional Semifinals at Roberts Pavilion on Friday night.

The win sets up a rematch with Trinity in the regional finals at 5 p.m. tomorrow, after the Athenas won the first meeting 3-1 on Sept. 10 at the East-West Battle, which is one of only four sets that they have dropped all year. 

It looked like they might drop a fifth, after a tight win in the first set and a lopsided win in the second (25-10). UT Dallas responded to roar out to a 20-11 after a 4-0 run, and it seemed like CMS might go to a fourth set. 

However, the Athenas started to chip away, as Summer Ellis, Audrey Sawyer and Jenna Holmes had consecutive kills off feeds from Spencer Hagenbuch. With the Comets up 22-15, the Athenas rolled off five points in a row, with Georgia McGovern recording an ace and an assist to Brenna Bell to cap off the run and make it 22-20. Dani Beder and Izzy Sakoda combined on a block to make it 23-22, and a Bell kill knotted it at 23-23. 

UT Dallas got a set point after a kill from Madison Ball, but Bell answered to tie it 24-24. CMS had its first set point at 25-24, but Lauren Johnson tied it 25-25. Sakoda's kill put CMS ahead 26-25, but kills from Karle Lynd and Abby Jones gave UT Dallas another set point at 27-26. 

An Audrey Sawyer kill tied it 27-27, and Brooke McKee then checked in for the first time in the match. Sakoda painted the baseline with an ace to give CMS the 28-27 lead, and McKee finished it off with a kill, on only her second point of the evening to give the Athenas the win. 

The first set also had some drama as CMS trailed 20-19 before Bell tied it with a kill. She and Beder had a block to make it 21-20, and after the Comets answered back, CMS had three straight points, on a Bell kill, a Bell-Sawyer block, and a Jackie Jones kill. UT Dallas fought off two set points to close to 24-23, but Bell finished it with a kill to give CMS the 1-0 lead. 

The second set was the only time that the Athenas were able to create separation, turning a 4-2 deficit into a 14-5 lead with a 13-1 run. CMS capped off the set with a 5-0 run for a 25-10 win, with Jones providing set point after an overpass, but UT Dallas was able to regroup to push CMS to the brink in the third. 

Bell, who was 8-for-10 hitting in the opening round win over Fontbonne yesterday, had another big day with 10 kills in 20 attempts, hitting .450, while adding six blocks. Jenna Holmes had a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs, and Dede Carranza had 19 digs on the day. McGovern had 23 assists and 10 digs, while Hagenbuch added 14 assists.

CMS will take on Trinity tomorrow at 5 p.m., when it will try to improve to 31-0, which would tie the program record for wins in a season and send the Athenas on to next week's nationals in Pittsburgh.