With heart, enthusiasm, and skill, the University of Redlands women's volleyball team topped the visiting Panthers of Chapman University in a thrilling Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown in Currier Gym on Tuesday Night. While earning just three more overall points in the four-set match, the Bulldogs knocked off the second-place Panthers by scores of 25-20, 25-0, 13-25, 25-22.
The high-caliber match began with kill after kill after kill, as junior right-side hitter Melanie Fyda (Chicago, IL), sophomore middle blocker Hannah Lanyon (San Diego, CA), and junior outside hitter Christina Casey (Sherwood, OR) each found hardwood for Redlands' 4-2 lead. A back-and-forth battle ensued through 9-all, when the Bulldogs orchestrated a three-point run off an incredibly efficient front row. First-year setter Tati Luevano (San Pablo, CA) found first-year outside hitter Natalie Starlin (Las Vegas, NV), Fyda, and Casey to close out the consecutive rallies.
Although Chapman hung in there, the Maroon and Gray kept the pressure on and forced the visitors to call a timeout. From here, Luevano unleashed a service ace before distributing the assists on back-to-back kills for the Bulldogs' 22-16 lead.
But the Panthers' offense responded for three consecutive points of their own to make it 19-22.
Nonetheless, Redlands came up with the well-timed putaways off the hands of Lanyon, Fyda, and Casey to secure the 25-20 victory.
During the second set, the Bulldogs stormed out to an 8-2 lead off a versatile offense that continued to fire on all cylinders. During this stretch, sophomore libero Ally Busch (Long Beach, CA) provided solid serving to initiate the outstanding rallies.
However, Chapman managed to cut it two points before the Bulldogs put together another impressive run of offense to stretch their advantage to 13-8. Casey, Starlin, and Lanyon remained hot at the net and continued to knock down kills for the Maroon and Gray. Costly Panther errors ignited Redlands' momentum late in the set, while the Bulldogs elevated their blocking game as well. Lanyon, Starlin, and Fyda all contributed to a wall of a block or two down the stretch.
Busch's sneak-attack that caught the Panthers off guard capped off another three-point run to make it 23-15 before junior right-side hitter Maloree Kupp (Sunnyside, WA) and junior setter Emily Marty (Chula Vista, CA) joined the hit parade for the Bulldogs' two-set lead.
Although Chapman regrouped in the third to stay in the match, the Maroon and Gray quickly stymied the opponents' efforts with stellar defense amidst ridiculous exchanges throughout the fourth frame. A 4-5 deficit became a 10-5 advantage off Casey's tough serving, which forced the Panthers into multiple miscues. In addition, first-year outside hitter Paige Davidson (Spanaway, WA) and Kupp teamed up for back-to-back kills.
Although the Panthers managed to take the lead at 21-20, the Bulldogs dug deep to find a way to secure the win in the fourth frame. Following back-to-back errors by Chapman, Luevano fired off a service ace and then dished out assists on Fyda's final two kills, which sealed the deal on the Maroon and Gray's big victory.
Fyda paced the Bulldogs with 12 kills, while Casey and Lanyon registered 11 and 10, respectively. Busch stepped up defensively with 29 digs. Marty provided 20 assists, while Luevano distributed 28.
Redlands (11-9, 2-7 SCIAC) heads to Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Friday, October 12, for a rematch against the Sagehens at 7 p.m.