The Chapman University volleyball team will play in the SCIAC Tournament Championship for just the second time since joining the conference in 2012. Chapman travels to top-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps for a 4 p.m. match on Saturday. The two teams split the season series this year with the Panthers winning in five at home and the Athenas sweeping on their home floor. Chapman's win over CMS was the Athenas' only SCIAC loss of the season.
BACK IN THE TITLE MATCH
Chapman officially joined the SCIAC and become eligible to win championships in the 2012-13 school year. That first year had been the best for the volleyball program until this year. Chapman made the championship match in 2012 after going 14-2 in their first full trip through a conference schedule. They defeated La Verne in the semifinal before falling in three straight sets to top-seeded Cal Lutheran. The 2019 Panthers made the fourth SCIAC Tournament appearance in school history and will try to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012 with a win at CMS on Saturday.
Chapman didn't get the start it wanted against Cal Lutheran but finished strong to take the match in five. In the first three sets, Chapman hit a combined .089 but was still able to steal the second set. Down 2-1 in the match, the offense began to click as Chapman hit just one ball out of bounds in the fourth and fifth sets combined for a .360 hitting percentage. Cal Lutheran hit .100 or below in both of the final sets. Sophomore Jessi Lumsden led the surge, hitting .333 over the final three sets and recording 11 of her 16 kills in that span.
The Panthers were ranked fifth in the latest NCAA West Region rankings – the second-highest SCIAC team and one of three ranked. With the Panthers win over Cal Lutheran on Thursday. Chapman is 3-4 against teams in the regional rankings and 3-2 against the two SCIAC squads in the rankings.
Chapman is in the midst of the winningest season in the program's Division III history. At 23-4, the Panthers are one win shy of tying the overall wins mark set by the 2011 and 2012 squads. The 2019 squad's winning percentage of .852 is currently the best mark in school history since 1973. The only squad in school history to win over 80 percent of its games was head coach Mary Cahill's first team in 1989. While still competing in the NCAA Division II, the 1989 Panthers went 27-6 for a .818 winning percentage.
By Steven Olveda
Sports Information Director