CLAREMONT — The Occidental College women's volleyball team lost a pivotal third set and couldn't recover in the fourth, falling one game back of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and the fourth-and-final SCIAC playoff spot with a 3-1 loss at CMS on Friday, 25-17, 16-25, 30-28, 25-18.
With one SCIAC match to play, Oxy (18-9, 8-7 SCIAC) sits in fifth, down, but not out. The Tigers still own the tiebreaker over the Athenas (17-9, 9-6 SCIAC) and would claim the last playoff spot with a win over Redlands (8-14, 3-12 SCIAC) and a CMS loss to La Verne (19-4, 11-3 SCIAC) on Saturday.
Oxy and CMS split their two matches — with each winning in four games — making the next relevant tiebreaker the combined point score of all eight sets they've played against each other this year. Oxy leads 184-176.
It still would have been nice to stay in the driver's seat though.
"It's a tough loss going into tomorrow night," Occidental coach Heather Collins said. "But if we play how we played last time (against Redlands), go in with a fresh mindset and have confidence in what we can do, then we'll be alright."
Both teams took turns dominating the first two sets and then CMS got the better of Oxy during Game 3, the most competitive game of the night.
Oxy had two cracks at match point. First Stephanie Gann (Tacoma, Wash.) and Dana Michels combined for a block to put Oxy up 27-26 and two points later Logan Boyer-Hayse (Boulder, Colo.) put down a kill to give the Tigers a 28-27 edge, but each time the Athenas answered. Oxy fell behind 29-28 and appeared to win the next point before the officials huddled and determined that earlier in the rally Alyssa Mort (Tucson, Ariz.) had hit the ball into the net on an attack rather than off of the block, for four touches on Oxy's side.
Part of the Tigers' problem throughout the match was stopping Audrey Breitwieser and Courtney Searls who combined for 27 kills.
"We had a lot of trouble stopping their two key hitters (Breitwieser) and (Searls)," Collins said. "And in the end that's what cost us the match."
Kasey Rose (Los Olivos) and Boyer-Hayse led the Tigers with 13 kills. Mort added nine.
Madyson Cassidy (Arcadia) had a match-high 34 digs for Oxy.
If Oxy does advance to the SCIAC Postseason Tournament they will most likely be traveling to Thousand Oaks on Nov. 1, for the second straight year, to face Cal Lutheran (23-4, 14-1 SCIAC). The Regals have a one-game lead in first place and play Caltech to finish the season on Saturday.