Regals volleyball: Queens of upsets

Senior outside hitter Amanda Roberts had a total of 11 kills, 14 digs and a double double during the five-set victory over the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas.  Photo by Joc Smith - Photojournalist
Senior outside hitter Amanda Roberts had a total of 11 kills, 14 digs and a double double during the five-set victory over the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas.
Photo by Joc Smith – Photojournalist

The California Lutheran University women’s volleyball team continued to upset nationally ranked teams with a huge win against the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas on Friday, Oct. 12.

They took down the Athenas, ranked second in the NCAA West region, giving them their first conference loss and adding to the Regals’ resume of victories over nationally ranked teams.

The five-set showdown took place in Gilbert Arena, where the Regals dominated defensively with a new team record of 14 total team blocks. The first set was a tug of war, with both teams taking turns in the lead.

However, defense kept the Regals alive. Late in the set, senior captain and outside hitter Amanda Roberts stepped up with back-to-back kills to keep them in the game. With the Regals down 29-28, the Athenas forced two critical errors, giving the Regals a 31-29 win in the first set.

The Athenas quickly answered back by taking the next two sets, 25-18 and 25-14. , bringing an overall lead of two sets to one.

Senior captain and setter Steph Rolfson said that they had let off of the gas in the second and third set, and acknowledged that the Athenas are a strong team. She said they had earned the one-set advantage.

Rolfson said that the pre-game pep talk by Head Coach Kellee Roesel was a motivator to her and her teammates.

During the pep talk, Roesel referenced the movie “Miracle” and how the U.S. hockey team went on to beat the undefeated Russian team. Rolfson said Roesel quoted the movie, saying, “Great moments come from great opportunities.”

In the fourth set, the Regals offense shined as sophomore setter Jennifer Kent recorded an ace, Rolfson recorded two aces and junior libero Carly Rose Howard recorded back-to-back aces that all contributed to force a fifth set. They won the fourth set with a close score of 25-23.

Even when the Athenas began to roll and start a scoring streak, the Regals’ defense continued to shut down the CMS offense at the net, recording a team record of 14 blocks. The Regals exceled on offense as well, holding the Athenas at five blocks for the game.

“It was up to us to play some tough defense and keep the ball in play. I think working hard really helped us take that fourth set,” senior middle blocker Hannah Cantrell said.

Early in the fifth and final set, neither team could gain an assertive lead until the Athenas scored five times to lead the game 9-6.

Roberts then came in with two key kills to bring the Regals within one. With the game tied at nine points each, Rolfson came up with another ace to give the Regals the lead.

First-year right side hitter Samantha Landrum, first-year middle hitter Maci Haddad and first-year outside hitter Jordan MacArthur gave the Regals the push they needed to win the final set and take down the Athenas. All four had a block each, helping the Regals take the fifth set and earn the Regals their sixth victory of conference place.

Cantrell said the first-years have not only stepped up in conference play, but have improved since the first practice of the season. She said the team members pride themselves when it comes to competition and being successful at key moments like these.

“[It takes] all 20 of us to give our all every single day,” Cantrell said.

The win gives the Regals momentum as they finish off the season. The Regals have successfully defeated the No. 2 and No. 3 nationally ranked teams.

Rolfson said performances like this show what the Regals have to offer on the court. No matter the team they play, they go in with the same mentality of, “Respect all, fear no one.”

The Regals now have improved to a SCIAC record of 6-4 and an overall record of 12-9.

After another win against the University of Redlands on Sunday, Oct. 14, the Regals are scheduled to host the California Institute of Technology on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.

Dominick Grimm