The University of Redlands women's volleyball team took on the Occidental College Tigers on Friday in the Bulldogs' final home match of the regular season. After dropping the opening the set, the Maroon and Gray bounced back to secure a 3-1 victory by scores of 18-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-17 over the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) foes.
During the first, the Tigers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Redlands struggled with too many miscues but began to create some momentum late in the stanza with quality kills by junior outside hitter Christina Casey (Sherwood, OR), junior right-side hitter Melanie Fyda (Chicago, IL), and junior middle blocker Sofia Olsson (Cupertino, CA).
The Bulldogs carried this energy into the next set and quickly built a 14-8 advantage off a persistent defense and crafty kills. First-year setter Tati Luevano (San Pablo, CA) spread out the offense and effectively connected with junior right-side Maloree Kupp (Sunnyside, WA), who found hardwood multiple times. In addition, first-year outside hitter Paige Davidson (Spanaway, WA) and sophomore middle blocker Hannah Lanyon (San Diego, CA) keyed in on the Oxy attack to put up an important block to make it 11-7. Late in this stretch, Casey added back-to-back kills to Redlands' strong start.
Although the Tigers cut it two on two occasions, the Bulldogs answered with a stellar defense that included huge digs from Luevano, Casey, and sophomore libero Ally Busch (Long Beach, CA) en route to the 25-18 decision.
Redlands grabbed a two-set lead by breaking a 12-12 tie in the third set off big plays at the net. Lanyon and first-year outside hitter Natalie Starlin (Las Vegas, NV) teamed up for a wall of a block, while each also knocked down a kill for the Bulldogs. A crafty putaway by Luevano kept Oxy off-balanced long enough to create openings for Casey and Kupp, who took advantage and found hardwood. In addition, Busch served off five points, earning one of them on an ace, to make it 24-14. Casey and Olsson put the exclamation point on the run with their big-time block before Casey's kill gave Redlands the 25-16 win.
Another early advantage propelled the Maroon and Gray in the final set, as the home team orchestrated a 6-2 lead before stretching that to 20-13. Big swings from the usual suspects as well as tough serving from Bush added up early. The Bulldogs stayed hungry at the net with multiple blocks, including a solo stop by Olsson and Lanyon each.
After the teams traded a few late points, Redlands sealed the deal on key kills by Fyda, Starlin, and Kupp, with junior setter Emily Marty (Chula Vista, CA) and Luevano dishing out sweet assists.
Casey posted a team-high 13 kills, while Fyda added 10 and Kupp supplied nine. Luevano distributed 24 assists and provided 14 digs, as Bush patrolled the back row with an impressive 27-dig performance.
Redlands (13-13, 4-11 SCIAC) heads to Whittier College on Saturday, October 27, for a 4 p.m. contest against the Poets.