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CMS celebrates with the SCIAC banner (photo by Kayla Ishibashi)
CMS celebrates with the SCIAC banner (photo by Kayla Ishibashi)

CMS Volleyball Sweeps La Verne for Sixth Straight SCIAC Championship

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Tournament Most Outstanding Performer Georgia McGovern had 38 assists, becoming the second setter in CMS history to record 1000 assists in a season, as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's volleyball team defeated La Verne 25-23, 25-23, 25-18 in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament finals on Saturday evening at Roberts Pavilion.

With the win, eighth-ranked CMS moves to 22-5 on the year and earns the SCIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, while No. 19 La Verne falls to 23-4 and will await a possible at-large berth. Roberts Pavilion will be the host site for nationals (quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals) on Nov. 29-Dec. 2, and the Athenas stand three regional wins away from getting the chance to compete on their home floor in the Final Eight. CMS will find out its regional site and opponents when the NCAA selections are announced on Monday. 

The Athenas earned the SCIAC Postseason Tournament title by sweeping the two opponents that they lost to during the regular season, Whittier 3-0 in the semifinals and La Verne 3-0 in the finals. La Verne snapped a 59-match win streak for CMS in SCIAC-sponsored matches with a 3-1 regular season victory to split the season series, but CMS was able to avenge that defeat and win the rubber match (although the two teams could meet again in the NCAA Tournament). 

McGovern had seven kills in 12 attempts, and quarterbacked an offense that hit .362 for the match, including .528 in the first set. She came into the match needing just 30 assists to reach 1000 for the season, and did so in the third set, becoming the first Athena to accomplish that feat since Natalya Preiser did it three times from 1992-94. 

Jenna Holmes led CMS with 14 kills on the day, while Brenna Bell had 10 in only 17 attempts. Izzy Sakoda contributed 16 digs and the kill for match point (her eighth), and middles Audrey Sawyer (eight kills in 15 attempts) and Dani Beder (seven kills in 17 attempts), combined for 15 kills.

CMS had to hold off La Verne comebacks in each of the first two sets to win 25-23. In the first set, CMS was up 19-14 before the Leopards rallied to pull within 22-21. Bell had a kill to make it 23-21, and La Verne fought off two set points before the Athenas won the third one on a service error. 

In the second set, CMS surged ahead 17-10 on a Beder kill, but the Leopards chipped away and got back to 22-21 on two straight kills from Mya Ray. McGovern answered the run with a kill and Holmes followed with another for a 24-21 lead. La Verne got two set points back again, but Bell was able to finish it off with a clutch kill for a 2-0 lead. 

CMS never let La Verne back in it in the third set as they were able to take a comfortable 25-18 win. A Dede Carranza ace made the score 8-2 early, and after La Verne chipped away to 12-8, Holmes had a kill, McGovern had two straight and Sawyer had an ace to push the lead to 16-8. After a timeout, Holmes capped the 5-0 run with a kill, and after La Verne used a 4-0 run to get within 23-17, Sawyer had a kill, and one point later, Sakoda, a fifth-year senior, put the ball down on her home floor, which she hopes won't be her final game there. 

CMS hosted an NCAA Regional a year ago, and could potentially host again this week, although last year the Athenas were ranked No. 1 in the country and this year they hold down the No. 8 spot in the most recent AVCA poll. They'll find out where they are going (or staying) when the selection show takes place on Monday.