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CMS celebrating a point
CMS will host Saturday's finals at 6 p.m. (photo by Abbie Bobeck)

CMS Advances Through to SCIAC Finals with Sweep of Whittier

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps volleyball team rolled to wins in the first two sets and held off a Whittier challenge in the third as it took a 25-16, 25-6, 25-23 win in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament Semifinals on Thursday evening at Roberts Pavilion.

With the win, CMS improves to 21-5 and advances through to host the SCIAC Finals on Saturday night at 6 p.m., when the Athenas will try to win their sixth straight tournament title. CMS will meet La Verne, which defeated Pomona-Pitzer 3-1 in a tight semifinal match on Thursday, taking the fourth set 26-24. It will also mark the 10th season in a row that CMS has competed in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament Finals, dating back to 2013. 

Brenna Bell had a season-high 15 kills to lead the way for CMS, while Dani Beder had seven kills in 10 attempts and added a career-high eight blocks. 

CMS used a 10-0 run in the first set to turn a 2-1 deficit into a commanding 11-2 lead, with Bell contributing three kills and a block during the run and Beder adding two kills and two blocks. Izzy Sakoda also added back-to-back kills and combined with Beder on the final block of the run. 

Whittier got back within 17-10, but Audrey Sawyer had a kill and two straight service aces to thwart any comeback hopes, and Bell had kills for the final two CMS points of the set to make it a 25-16 Athena win and a 1-0 lead in the match. 

The second set was all Athenas, who jumped out to leads of 5-0, 9-1 and 17-2. Sawyer had a hand in three straight blocks in the middle of the 8-0 run, combing with Sakoda and Bell on the first two and registering a solo block on the third. Jenna Holmes capped off the set with a kill for a dominant 25-6 win and a 2-0 lead. 

Whittier hung tough in the third set, though, and used a 4-0 run to turn an 18-13 CMS lead into a tight 18-17 advantage. Bell had a kill and Sawyer and Georgia McGovern combined on a block to make it 20-17, but Whittier rattled off the next three points to pull even at 20-20. 

Sakoda had a kill to go up 21-20, McGovern had a kill to make it 22-21 and after Whittier tied it 22-22, Beder and Bell had back-to-back kills to put the Athenas ahead 24-22. Riley DeGroot had a block for the Poets to fight off the first match point, but Holmes came through with a clutch kill to finish off the match with a 25-23 third-set win. 

McGovern had 33 assists in the match to raise her season total to 970, leaving her 30 shy of becoming the second setter in CMS history to have 1000 assists in a season, and the first to do it since Natalya Preiser accomplished it three years in a row from 1992-94. Dede Carranza had a team-high 13 digs, while Sakoda had 12 and Holmes had 10. 

CMS split with La Verne during the regular season, winning a close battle at home (27-25, 25-16, 26-24) and then falling to the Leopards 3-1 on the road, which snapped a 59-match SCIAC win streak for the Athenas.