Berry's Olivia Mallow

Berry’s Olivia Mallow sends the ball over the net during her team’s match at the NCAA Division III Championships on Thursday.

The end of the season wasn’t what the team envisioned.

Yet when the Berry Vikings walked off the volleyball court at Francis Fieldhouse on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis on Thursday night, they did so holding their heads up high, knowing that they had made history.

In the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Championships, the No. 12-ranked Vikings saw their record-setting season come to an end when they were handed a 3-1 loss in the national quarterfinals by No. 3 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

The season-ending setback closes the book of Berry’s 2021 campaign that saw the Vikings roll up a 28-3 overall record, win the Southern Athletic Association regular season and tournament championships, capture the school’s first NCAA Regional crown to earn the trip to the national tournament and see their own players collect multiple postseason honors.

From the outset of their quarterfinal match against the CMS Athenas, who were no strangers to the NCAA tournament having won the 2017 national championship, the Vikings appeared more than ready for the challenge as Berry scored five unanswered points in the opening set.

Claremont, however, charged back to erase the Vikings early edge and went on to claim the first set, 25-19, and continue to keep Berry at bay when CMS win the second set 25-20.

The Vikings, however, regrouped and came back to notch a 25-21 victory in the third set, only to see the Athenas regain control of the match and close out the fourth set with a 25-12 win to seal the victory and advance to the semifinals.

Molly Bergin paced the Vikings’ offensive attack at the net recording 17 kills while Cypress Guenther added 10, and Emily Rapach recorded 34 assists.

Defensively, Laura Beier closed out her record-setting career with 35 digs, Bergin 15 and Rapach had 15 and 10 digs respectively, and Olivia Mallow came up with seven blocks.

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