The University of Redlands women's volleyball team made the short trek to Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Friday night for a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) match against the Sagehens. With hopes of riding their recent win streak, the Bulldogs battled back from two sets down to eventually force a fifth but came up short in an incredibly tight result, 23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-20, 12-15.
Redlands built an early 5-2 lead during the opening set with first-year outside hitter Paige Davidson (Spanaway, WA) and sophomore defensive specialist Ally Busch (Long Beach, CA) at the service line. First-year setter Tati Luevano (San Pablo, CA) dished out assists for quality kills by junior right-side hitter Melanie Fyda (Chicago, IL) and junior outside hitter Christina Casey (Sherwood, OR), while the Sagehens struggled with multiple errors.
However, Pomona-Pitzer eventually responded to keep things within three points, as Redlands grew its lead to 17-14 off a kill by junior right-side hitter Maloree Kupp (Sunnyside, WA).
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs struggled with their own miscues late in the match, which provided just enough of an opening for Pomona-Pitzer to steal the opening stanza.
The momentum stayed with the Sagehens in the second set, as they forced Redlands into an uphill battle early on. The Bulldogs refused to go away and their persistence paid off when junior middle blocker Sofia Olsson's (Cupertino, CA) service ace capped off a five-point run to tie it up at 22.
Nonetheless, Pomona-Pitzer mustered the final three points to grab a two-set lead.
A slow start put Redlands in an early 3-9 hole in the must-win set, but junior setter Emily Marty (Chula Vista, CA) stepped into the game to change the momentum. She fired off an ace before finding first-year outside hitter Natalie Starlin (Las Vegas, NV) for the kill. Following a bad set by the Sagehens, the Bulldogs earned two more points with Marty at the service line to even the tally at nine apiece.
With intense defense and high-flying attacks, the Bulldogs slowly earned a slight 19-15 advantage off well-timed kills by junior right-side hitter Megan Houston (Des Moines, WA), Kupp, and sophomore middle blocker Hannah Lanyon (San Diego, CA). In addition, Olsson and Casey combined forces for a wall of a block to complete the run.
Another block and multiple Sagehen miscues later, the Bulldogs prevailed in a 25-21 result in the third set.
With their backs still against the wall, the Maroon and Gray fought to break a six-all tie in the fourth with steady play by Houston along the net. Pomona-PItzer contributed to the Bulldogs' cause by coughing up multiple errors as well.
Although the Sagehens made a run to tie it up repeatedly, the Bulldogs used a late push of positive rallies to capture the 25-20 win. Houston and Lanyon combined for four of the team's final points by finding hardwood at just the right time.
The back-and-forth nature of the match continued into the deciding set, with Redlands firing off five points before Pomona-PItzer answered with a 4-1 run to tie it up at six.
After a kill by Olsson, the Bulldogs led at 8-7 when the teams switched sides.
However, the Sagehens put together a four-point spurt that provided the difference in an extremely close battle.
The Bulldogs' attack excelled in the middle, with Olsson registering a .474 hitting percentage off 11 kills and Lanyon finding hardwood on 13 occasions. In addition, Casey uncorked 10 kills for the Bulldogs.
Defensively, the Maroon and Gray had three players in double-digit digs, as Busch led the charge with 22.
Overall, Redlands fired off 11 service aces, with Busch, Starlin, Marty, and Luevano each supplying two or more.
Redlands (11-10, 2-8 SCIAC) returns home to Currier Gym on Sunday, October 14, for a 2 p.m. match against the Cal Lutheran University Regals.