CMS Volleyball Battles to the End, But Falls in Five to Hope in the NCAA Semifinals
CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's volleyball team earned the right to play at Roberts Pavilion for nationals this season after winning both the SCIAC and the NCAA Regionals. Once they reached their home floor, they left everything they had on it, battling back from big deficits, but came up just short in a five-set defeat to Hope in the NCAA Division III Semifinals on Thursday evening.
CMS dropped the first two sets, and had to rally from big deficits to win both the third and fourth sets to force it to a fifth and deciding set. Hope, though, was able to put the final run together and earn a 25-21, 25-23, 23-25, 23-25, 15-10 win to advance to the national finals on Saturday, when they will face Juniata at Roberts Pavilion at 4 p.m.
Georgia McGovern had a career high 61 assists and Dani Beder had a career-high 14 kills for the Athenas, while Jenna Holmes had 21 kills. Dede Carranza had 29 digs, many of the spectacular variety that swung momentum in key parts of the third and fourth sets, and fifth-year senior Izzy Sakoda came up with clutch kills at 24-23 in both the third and fourth sets to prolong her CMS career.
CMS ends its season at 26-6, but they certainly did not go down without a fight. After Hope overcame a 23-22 deficit with the final three points to win the second set 25-23, the Flying Dutch jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the third and appeared to be on its way to the finals.
However, the Athenas showed the resolve when they needed it most and got back even 9-9 after Holmes had two straight kills and a block with Beder to make it 9-8, before Beder tied it up 9-9. CMS went up 22-18, and Hope was able to claw back within 22-21, but Beder had a kill to make it 24-22, and after Hope erased one set point, Sakoda finished it off to send the match to a fourth.
Once again, CMS fell into a hole in the fourth set, this time an even deeper one as it trailed 12-6 with its season on the line. Holmes, a two-time first-team All-American, then rose to the occasion with three kills in a row to cut the deficit in half and make it a 12-9 match. McGovern and Audrey Sawyer had two straight kills to close the gap to 17-16, and Holmes had two more kills to give CMS its first lead of the fourth set at 20-19.
Hope surged back in front 22-21, but Beder tied it with a kill and Sawyer and Sakoda combined on a huge block to make it 23-22. After an exchange of points put CMS up 24-23, Sakoda again came through in a clutch spot for a 25-23 win to force the match to a fifth.
Hope took an early 3-1 lead in the fifth, but CMS had three points in a row, capped by a Sawyer kill. The teams exchanged the lead two more times before Holmes tied it 9-9 with her final kill. Hope had three points in a row, and Brooke McKee had a kill to make the score 12-10, but Hope had the final 3-0 run to seal it.
Sawyer finished with 12 kills and Sakoda had 11 as CMS had four players reach double figures. Holmes (21 kills, 15 digs) and Sakoda (11 kills, 12 digs) each had double-doubles, while McGovern added 19 digs and Isabel Yau-Weeks had 12.
Holmes and Sakoda finished their CMS careers with the program's third-ever visit to the NCAA Division III Semifinals, along with fellow senior Maxine Mathewson-Lieber, but McGovern, Sawyer Brenna Bell and Dede Carranza will all be back next year with All-America honors under their belts as the Athenas will try to make another run at a national title.