NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- After a five-set nail-biter, Wis.-Stevens Point advanced to the national semifinals for the second consecutive year. The pointers edged Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 18-25, 25-15, 25-22, 15-25, 16-14 in the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon at The Freeman Center.
The Pointers (33-4) trailed 7-4 in the decisive fifth set but won seven of the next eight points to take an 11-8 advantage. The Athenas (27-7) rallied to tie the score at 13-13, leading to a UWSP timeout. After a 14-14 deadlock, Wis.-Stevens Point closed out the win on a CMS attack error and a kill by Sarah Breuer.
With the win, Wis.-Stevens Point is into the Final Four for the second time in program history (2013). The Pointers, winners of 21consecutive matches, will take on the winner of the match between Emory and Williams.
CMS outhit UWSP .227-.043 in the opening set. The Athenas won 10 of 13 points to take a commanding 22-12 lead, only to see the Pointers start a rally with four consecutive points. Wis.-Stevens Point got as close as 23-18 but Claremont-Mudd-Scripps got kills from Margaux Asntson and Nicole Kerkhof to wrap up the set.
The Pointers flipped the script in the second set, hitting a blistering .289 to even things at a set apiece. Krista Loos tallied five of her 10 kills in the second set. UWSP led by as many as 10, 23-13, late in the set following a run of si consecutive points.
Wis.-Stevens Point continued the momentum in the third set, racing out to a 6-1 lead early. The Pointers led 14-7 midway through the set before the Athenas caught fire and won 10 points on the trot, four on kills by Kerkhof. Trailing 18-15, UWSP won five points in a row to go up 20-18 and kept CMS at bay. Ellen Drewry and Alexis Hartman combined for a block on the final point to give the Pointers a two-set-to-one lead.
Despite being outhit .167-.147 for the match, Wis.-Stevens Point used an 11-5 advantage in blocks to pull out the win. Emma Brunkhorst led the UWSP offense with a match-high 19 kills and had seven block assists. Breuer added 12, including a clutch kill on match point, and Loos had 10. Gabby Thomas and Tiffany Stargardt chipped in with nine and seven, respectively.
Hartman had 43 of UWSP's 56 assists in the match and added 19 digs. Hannah Picel tallied 27 digs, her third-highest total of the season to lead the Pointers' defense. Bri Piepenbrok and Marie Krengel combined for 32 digs in the back row.
Audrey Breitweiser led four CMS players in double figures with 16 kills, Kerkhof tallied 15 and Arntson added 14. Kerkhof made a match-high 33 digs and Megan Coleman had 32.