ORANGE, Calif. – It went the distance and then some but the Chapman University volleyball team finally secured the upset win over seventh-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to extend its winning streak to seven. The Panthers fought back from a 0-2 hole and needed 10 extra points in the fifth set to secure the 18-25, 20-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-23 win.
The momentum seesaw tilted all night long. It took a long swing in the visitors direction in the first two sets as CMS cruised to a 2-0 lead. The Athenas (9-5, 2-1 SCIAC) hit a scorching .375 in the second set and held Chapman (10-3, 4-0 SCIAC) to a .051 hitting percentage in the first.
Then, the momentum swung like a pendulum to the home side. With its back against the wall, senior Kylie Cooke slammed down six of her 18 kills in the third set to extend the match into a fourth set. Junior Courtney Justus served up four aces in the fourth set while Cooke's swing stayed on fire with four kills on seven attempts to knot the match at two sets apiece.
In the fifth set, Chapman seemed to be riding the late wave of momentum to the upset win. Junior Lindsey Johnson scored three of the Panthers' first eight points with kills as the home team built an 8-4 lead. CMS fought all the way on the strength of three kills from Margaux Anston to tie the set at 9-9. Chapman scored the next two points and continued on a 5-1 run, fueled by a couple kills from senior Abby Smith as well as a kill from Cooke and Johnson, to make it 14-10.
The upset energy could be felt all through Hutton Center but the Athenas would not go without a fight. A block, a kill and a service ace all of a sudden made it 14-13. Margot Mafra Spencer slammed down another kill to 14-14. The seesaw went into overdrive as Chapman had match point at 15-14 but CMS scored the next two to make it 15-16. A service error extended the match but CMS set up match point again on a kill from Shelby Stein.
Johnson saved the Panthers with a kill. A block from Justus and sophomore Nayelli Munoz swung match point to the Panthers side. Back-to-back blocks the other way gave CMS another opportunity to stave off the upset. Justus and Arnston traded the next two kills. Match point to the Athenas. Arnston's next swing went long but she set up match point again just a few moments later with another kill.
Justus slammed down another kill but then so did Stein. Another CMS attack went long but Stein brought match point back for the visitors at 23-22. Cooke stepped up and saved the Panthers with a big kill and then Johnson threw down her 19th kill of the night from the left side for a 24-23 Chapman advantage. On the next point, junior Kaitlyn Raymundo found Johnson in transition on the left side and she annihilated kill No. 20 to clinch the match for Panthers, sending the bench streaming on to the floor in celebration.
Johnson had a huge night with 20 kills, including seven in the fifth set, on .415 hitting to go along with 15 digs and a pair of aces. Cooke hit .375 to collect 18 kills – 13 of which came in the third, fourth and fifth sets. Justus had 15 kills, senior Cheri Raymundo had 32 digs, junior Jessica Blum passed out 35 assists while Raymundo posted a double-double with 12 digs and 21 assists.
Arnston led CMS with 23 kills on .315 hitting. Stein hit .410 and had 18 kills. Mikena Werner put up 30 digs. The Panthers overcame 14 CMS blocks while Chapman put up eight.
The Panthers take an early lead in the conference standings as the only team in the SCIAC to remain unbeaten through the first four matches. Their seven-match win streak is the longest since 2012 when they won nine SCIAC matches in a row.
They'll face another tough opponent on Tuesday as they travel to nationally-ranked La Verne but return home on Sep. 30 to face Pomona-Pitzer.
By Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director