The University of Redlands women's volleyball team hosted the Leopards of the University of La Verne in Friday night's Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) match in Currier Gym. Despite only earning three fewer points than the Leopards, the Bulldogs came up short in a four-set outing, 14-25, 22-25, 25-23, 18-25.
Redlands' best offensive effort came in the opening set with a .229 showing off of 12 kills. However, La Verne raised the bar in that set with a .387 performance.
Nonetheless, the Bulldogs battled in the second stanza and stormed out to a 6-1 lead. Junior middle blocker Sofia Olsson (Cupertino, CA) registered a pair of kills off an overpass and a sweet assist by senior setter Jackie Andrade (West Seattle, WA).
However, La Verne quickly regrouped and forced a 7-7 tie before the teams went on to trade punches in a back-and-forth melee. Key put-aways by sophomore middle blocker Hannah Lanyon (San Diego, CA), junior outside hitter Christina Casey (Sherwood, OR), and junior right-side hitter Megan Houston (Des Moines, WA) kept Redlands in the mix. Down 15-17, the Bulldogs used a well-timed block by Lanyon and Houston to breathe new life into the squad and resulted in a three-point surge.
The momentum constantly changed over the next few rallies, until La Verne broke a 22-all stalemate with three straight kills for the two-set lead.
With their backs against the wall, the Bulldogs showed incredible heart and determination in the third frame by jumping out to another early lead at 5-1. Redlands' relentless defense kept coming up with the plays to maintain their lead at 10-9, as highlighted by miraculous digs by sophomore defensive specialist Ally Busch (Long Beach, CA), junior setter Emily Marty (Chula Vista, CA), and junior defensive specialist Lauren Lux (San Jose, CA).
Unfortunately, ULV managed to pull away to make it 15-11, forcing a Redlands timeout. Nonetheless, Head Coach Lisa Lindberg's pep talk led to a six-point run for the home team's 17-15 advantage. During this stretch, first-year setter Tati Luevano (San Pablo, CA) found first-year Natalie Starlin (Las Vegas, NV) on the outside for a kill before Olsson fired off a service ace. In addition, Starlin and Lanyon combined for a wall of a block to temporarily shut down ULV at the net.
The back-and-forth competition continued, with Redlands gaining set point off a Casey kill. However, the Leopards regrouped for back-to-back points, forcing another Bulldog timeout. This time, Olsson found hardwood for the crowd's satisfaction in the 25-23 result.
Despite the enthusiastic finish to the third, the Maroon and Gray still faced an uphill battle with two sets to go. A tight start to the fourth set felt familiar to the Bulldogs, but the Leopards managed to pull away on the home team's errors.
Although Redlands fought until the very end, La Verne stayed in front to secure the four-set decision.
Olsson finished with an impressive .600 hitting percentage off of 13 kills and only one error. Starlin added 12 kills for the Bulldogs. Defensively, Redlands gained double-digit digs from Busch, Lux, and Starlin, who combined for 43 on the night. Luevano came into the match and made a difference with 20 assists.
ULV's Kelsie Sievers carried the Leopard attack with 21 kills. Kristen Sanchez supplied 30 digs.
Redlands (6-6, 0-4 SCIAC) heads to No. 5 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Saturday, September 22, for a 4 p.m. SCIAC tilt.