For the second time this season, the University of Redlands women's volleyball team rallied to take a set off of a nationally-ranked opponent, with Tuesday night's result coming against No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges in Currier Gym. During the triumphant third set, the Bulldogs held the Athenas to a .170 hitting percentage and turned a two-point deficit into a 26-24 victory to extend the match to a fourth set. Although the Maroon and Gray missed out on the upset, the home team put up a valiant effort in the 17-25, 13-25, 26-24, 20-25 outcome in another positive step for the relatively young program.
After dropping the first two frames, the Bulldogs faced a must-win scenario to avoid the sweep and rose to the challenge. In a back-and-forth battle, the teams knotted the score on 13 occasions, with neither squad pulling away by more than three points.
With the score tied at 17, Redlands enjoyed a slight scoring spurt that started with a crafty kill by freshman middle hitter Sofia Olsson (Cupertino, CA). Following a CMS miscue, the Bulldogs looked to Olsson and freshman outside hitter Christina Casey (Sherwood, OR) to put up a wall of block, making it 20-17.
However, CMS found a way to win a few of the incredible defensive rallies to eventually force another tie at 21.
After Casey and freshman middle hitter Sammi Tafoya (Granite Bay, CA) stepped up with a well-timed block for the Bulldogs, the Athenas seemed to regain control with three-straight points to make it their match point. Following Head Coach Lisa Lindberg's timeout, the Maroon and Gray came right back to even things up once again, as the official called a ball-handling-error on the CMS setter, before sophomore outside hitter Kaylee Burdick (Sun Valley, CA) found hardwood down the line for a kill. Another Athena error put set point on the serve of junior defensive specialist/libero Abigail Hickman (Phoenix, AZ), who fired off a magical floater to keep CMS on their heels. While forcing the opponents out of system, Redlands orchestrated a solid attack, with senior setter Ellie McLeod (Redlands, CA) finding the hot hand of Burdick for another blast en route to the 26-24 third-set win for the Bulldogs.
Although the Athenas quickly regained the momentum in the fourth set, Redlands showed great heart and defensive skill amidst the ridiculous rallies throughout the match.
Olsson dominated the front line as one of two hitters in the match to attack at a clip in the .400s. She put together a 12-kill showing off of just 25 swings. Burdick also registered 12 kills for the Bulldogs.
McLeod finished the night with 33 assists, while Hickman and senior defensive specialist Alex Michel (Loma Linda, CA) supplied 16 digs and 15 digs, respectively.
Redlands (10-7, 2-6 SCIAC) strives to return to the win column on Sunday, October 9, when it hosts Mills College in a non-conference match in Currier Gym at 11 a.m.