Poets go the distance with No. 5 Claremont-M-S

Poets go the distance with No. 5 Claremont-M-S

Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com

WHITTIER, Calif. – Following a tough five-set thriller against the University of La Verne Friday night, the Whittier College Volleyball team attempted to pull off their second straight upset this time against No. 5 Claremont-M-S inside of the Graham Athletic Center.

The Poets threatened the Athenas all night and had opportunities late but couldn't convert as they let CMS back into the match to pull off the five set win 21-25, 25-17, 24-26, 25-20, 16-14.

Whittier has now dropped three of their last four and move to 7-8, 4-3 SCIAC.  Claremont-M-S improves to 14-2, 5-0 SCIAC.  Over the last three matches for CMS they haven't given up a set sweeping Redlands, Caltech, and Occidental but had their hands full with the Purple & Gold Saturday night. 

Despite hitting .103 for the match, the Poets still saw themselves leading two sets to one.  Makenzie Thieme (Corona, Calif.) led the offense with 11 kills with six digs.  Freshman Franki Piloto (Ontario, Calif.) added eight kills, five digs and three block assists and Alaina Rhee (Kent, WA) had her breakout game of the season with nine kills on 17 attempts, hitting a career high .471 to go with seven blocks (2 solo/5 assisted).

Camryn Purdom (Moreno Valley, Calif.) finished the match with 22 assists and 13 digs and Hannah Joyce (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) backed her up with 15 assists and nine digs.  Haley Petruescu (La Mirada, Calif.) led the back row with 14 digs and added four assists and a service ace.  Another standout from the game was junior Jazmyn Sudbrook-Johnson (Fremont, Calif.) who chipped in with seven kills and four digs.

The Poets stunned CMS early taking the first set 25-20.  They used five unanswered midway through to take an 19-14 lead and stayed strong late with Ashley Whittall (Norwalk, Calif.), Sudbrook-Johnson, and Rhee coming up with some big kills to put WC on top 1-0.

The Athenas managed to bounce back to level the match at 1-1 with a strong second frame but the Poets didn't back away coming out in the third firing on all cylinders.  Whittier was on top 18-13 making a statement but saw CMS rally back with six straight to swing the momentum and take a lead 19-18.  WC rebounded though with five of the next seven points capitalizing on three Athena attacking errors moving the score to 23-21.  But again this lead wouldn't hold as CMS would add three straight to get a set point at 24-23.  Facing the chance to go down two sets to one the Poets saw the Athenas fall apart with a service error and two attacking errors that handed WC the advantage.

In the fourth, CMS jumped out to a big lead, using a 5-0 run to turn a narrow 13-10 advantage into a commanding 18-10 lead.  Whittier though crept back into it pulling within three at 21-18 following three kills from Thieme and Sudbrook-Johnson.  But immediately after, the Athenas would rally with four of the next six points to level the match at 2-2.

The fifth and final set was tight throughout with neither team able to take a lead more than two.  The Poets had the advantage on four different occasions, including a 13-12 advantage but they couldn't get over the hill as CMS would rally with four of the next five points to pick up the crucial road victory.

Whittier travels this week as they take on the University of Redlands this Tuesday, October 2 beginning at 7:00pm.