Redlands Volleyball Prevails over Pomona-Pitzer in Five Sets on Senior Night
With the celebration of the seniors setting the stage, the University of Redlands volleyball team provided an unforgettable final home contest of the 2012 season with a five-set, nail-biter triumph over the visiting Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. After a dramatic meeting back on Sept. 28, the second showdown between these teams offered plenty of excitement, with the key difference coming in Friday's victor, as the Bulldogs prevailed by scores of 26-28, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 16-14.
Following a pregame ceremony to honor senior right-side hitter/setter Lauren Walsh (La Verne, CA) and senior outside hitter Sam Dodson (Alamogordo, NM), the Bulldogs put together an impressive come-from-behind effort to notch their eighth win of the season. Down a set early and then facing a two-sets-to-one deficit, Redlands refused to go away and ultimately forced the fifth frame on a kill by freshman middle blocker Ashton Martin (Redlands, CA).
During the fifth set, the teams battled at a high level, with nine of the first 10 points coming on positive plays from either team, eight of which were kills.
Pomona-Pitzer held a slight advantage at 7-4 after a Bulldog attacking error, but the Sagehens gave away a few points of their own, quickly making it 7-7.
The teams traded punches before Redlands gained a pair of timely kills by Dodson to even the count at 10 apiece.
Tied again at 12, back-to-back Sagehen errors gave Redlands double match point at 14-12.
A kill by Michelle Schultz held off one, but the Bulldog offense responded with Martin and junior outside hitter Morgan Buckner (San Rafael, CA) finding hardwood for the emotional and exciting victory.
During the opening stanza, Redlands jumped out to an early 8-3 lead, with tough hitting and solid blocking paving the way. Among the rallies, the Bulldogs gained a trio of kills from Walsh, Dodson, and freshman outside hitter Haili Hannah (San Diego, CA). In addition, the front row's triple block recorded two points for the Maroon and Gray.
From here, a back-and-forth encounter ensued all the way up to 25-all. The Sagehens mustered consecutive points to nab the first set, 28-26.
Redlands broke a two-all tie in the second stanza by taking advantage of Pomona-Pitzer miscues and by putting up a pair of mighty blocks. Martin, Dodson, and Walsh all helped to shut down the opponents' offense during this stretch.
From here, the Bulldogs maintained their lead en route to the 25-21 tally, evening the set score at one apiece.
A similar turn of events took place in the third frame, with Pomona-Pitzer earning the edge at the end of the set at 25-20.
Redlands erupted for a .244 hitting percentage during the fourth set, with Dodson carrying the load with six of her season-high 19 kills.
Tied at 21, the Bulldogs benefitted from multiple errors by the Sagehens before Walsh and Martin teamed up for a critical block. Martin propelled the team to the fifth set when she crushed one of her 12 kills of the night.
Buckner paced the offense with a match-high 21 kills while recording just one error for a .333 hitting percentage. Dodson finished off her final home contest with a stellar .289 mark on 19 kills, which tied her career-high output.
Pomona-Pitzer gained 16 kills from Shultz and 13 from Ellen Yamasaki. Lauren Kim provided 21 digs for the Sagehens.
Overall, Redlands registered 11 blocks on the night, with Walsh contributing seven assists and freshman middle blocker Marisa Gile (Yucaipa, CA) adding six.
The Bulldogs (8-14, 3-12 SCIAC) head to Occidental College for their final match of the season on Saturday at 6 p.m.