The University of Redlands women's volleyball team returned home to the friendly confines of Currier Gym for a non-conference showdown against the Firebirds of the University of St. Katherine on Thursday night. After using late pushes in each of the first two sets, the Bulldogs secured the sweep with a solid performance in the third to earn the 25-20, 28-26, 25-11 win.
Midway through the opening frame, Redlands overcame a six-point hole with effective serving and defense. Senior setter Emily Marty's (San Diego, CA) crafty kill put the ball in junior libero Ally Busch's (Long Beach, CA) hand for the serve. She proceeded to rattle off four points, with the help of a solo block from junior middle blocker Hannah Lanyon (San Diego, CA) and persistent play from the Bulldogs. Lanyon also added a timely kill to make it 18-19. The teams exchanged the next few points, which sent sophomore outside hitter Natalie Starlin (Las Vegas, NV) to the service line, where she provided two aces for the Maroon and Gray's cause. In addition, sophomore outside Taylor Degnan (Atascadero, CA) terminated a pair of points on great swings, with her second one resulting in the first-set win for the Bulldogs.
During the next set, the tables were turned, as the Firebirds rallied back from five points down to knot the score at 22. Redlands gained a key kill and a solo block from senior right-side hitter Maloree Kupp (Sunnyside, WA) to give her team a 24-23 lead. However, St. Katherine answered right back by going up, 25-24. Although the back-and-forth nature of the set continued until 26-all, Redlands benefitted from a Firebird error before Degnan unleashed a big-time kill off sophomore setter Tati Luevano's (San Pedro, CA) perfect assist for the 28-26 decision. In addition, junior defensive specialist Emily Vankoll (Moraga, CA) entered the match and made an immediate impact from the back row with great defensive plays during the long rallies.
With a 2-0 lead, the Bulldogs maintained their momentum by taking the first five points of the third set. While the Firebirds continued to drop errors, Redlands earned points off of a Starlin ace and kills by Degnan and senior middle blocker Sammi Tafoya (Granite Bay, CA). A few plays later, senior right-side hitter Megan Houston (Des Moines, WA) bolstered the attack with back-to-back kills. In addition, Marty tossed in a few aces to keep Redlands on track. Junior defensive specialist Samara Herrick (San Diego, CA) served off three points late in the set, as the Bulldogs rolled to a solid, deciding-set victory.
Overall, Starlin provided five kills, five aces, and eight digs, while Degnan and Kupp added 15 kills collectively. In addition, Lanyon stepped up with four block assists, as Busch supplied 11 digs. Marty and Luevano combined for 28 assists.
Redlands (1-4) heads to Pennsylvania for four matches at the Swarthmore Invite on Friday, September 13, and Saturday, September 14.