The University of Redlands women's volleyball team concluded the 2018 regular season with a three-set loss to Whittier College in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action on Saturday.
The first set went back and forth early on, with the Bulldogs opening up a quick 3-1 lead on big plays at the net. First-year outside hitter Natalie Starlin (Las Vegas, NV) scored the team's first point on a kill before knocking down an ace. Junior right-side hitter Maloree Kupp (Sunnyside, WA) and sophomore middle blocker Hannah Lanyon (San Diego, CA) put up a wall of a block.
After the teams traded points and leads, the Bulldogs broke a 12-12 tie with a sneaky putaway by first-year setter Tati Luevano (San Pablo, CA). Redlands created some momentum off multiple Poet miscues en route to a 22-19 lead off a Kupp kill.
However, the Poets caught fire and won the final six points of the set to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Whittier gained traction midway through the second set with a 16-9 advantage.
Redlands fought to close the gap by capitalizing on two attacking errors, but 10 of the next 13 points went the Poets' way, putting the Bulldogs in a two-set hole.
Amidst a more tightly-contested third set, the Maroon and Gray built an 8-7 lead off a solid offense. Junior right-side hitter Melanie Fyda (Chicago, IL) and Kupp sparked a 7-2 run by combining for five kills, with Luevano, sophomore libero Ally Busch (Long Beach, CA) and junior setter Emily Marty (Chula Vista, CA) each dishing out at least one assist.
Although the Poets answered with five straight points of their own to steal a 12-9 lead, the Bulldogs kept knocking on the door and finally tied the score up at 22-all. The Maroon and Gray's relentless defense and presence at the net forced Whittier into multiple errors, while Lanyon and Kupp capitalized on their offensive opportunities. The duo also created a wall of a block to move Redlands within two at 17-19.
Nonetheless, Whittier responded to steal the final three points and the sweeping victory.
Kupp and Fyda each knocked down seven kills for the Bulldogs.
Redlands (13-14, 4-12 SCIAC) ends the season in seventh place in the SCIAC, which marks the best conference finish since 2011.