The University of Redlands women's volleyball team squared off against the fourth-ranked Cal Lutheran University Regals in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) match on Tuesday evening in Currier Gym. With heart and determination, the Bulldogs battled to stretch the match to four sets but ultimately fell by scores of 16-25, 25-22, 12-25, 18-25.
With the 25-22 effort, Redlands took a set from CLU for the first time since 2009, when the Bulldogs swept the Regals in their second meeting of the season.
During tonight's victorious set, Redlands' relentless defense, crafty hitting, and skillful serving sent the Regals out of system and into error-riddled runs that provided the difference for the home team. Freshman middle hitter Sofia Olsson(Cupertino, CA) set the tone immediately out of the gate by converting three kills in four rallies for the Bulldogs.
With Redlands leading by a score of 3-1, junior libero Abigail Hickman (Phoenix, AZ) kept things rolling with back-to-back service aces, before freshman outside hitter Christina Casey (Sherwood, OR) joined the hit parade with a kill of her own to make it 6-1.
Although the Regals cut the deficit to two on a short scoring spurt, the Maroon and Gray answered when freshman middle hitter Sammi Tafoya (Granite Bay, CA) found hardwood on consecutive rallies for an 8-4 Redlands advantage.
The Bulldogs held on to the momentum over the next few points, as highlighted by big blocks by Olsson, McLeod, and freshman opposite hitter Megan Houston (Normandy Park, WA), which resulted in a 14-8 lead and inspired a CLU timeout.
The teams traded four- and five-point runs that eventually led to knotted scores at 19, 20, and 21.
However, CLU misfired on consecutive points, which gave the home team a slight advantage at 23-21. Redlands sealed the deal on the second-set victory when McLeod connected with sophomore outside hitter Kaylee Burdick (Sun Valley, CA) for back-to-back kills.
Unfortunately for Redlands, CLU made the necessary adjustments and regained the momentum in the subsequent sets to secure the 3-1 decision. Nonetheless, many of the rallies provided incredible defensive plays by both squads, with Hickman, senior defensive specialist Alex Michel (Loma Linda, CA), and freshman defensive specialist Lauren Lux (San Jose, CA) patrolling the back row with a relentless pursuit of the ball. Hickman led the trio with 19 digs on the night.
Overall, Olsson led the Bulldog attack with 13 kills for a hitting percentage of .345. Casey finished with 12 kills, while Burdick added nine. McLeod dished out 33 assists.
Redlands (8-3, 1-2 SCIAC) heads to Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Friday, September 23, for a 7 p.m. showdown against the Sagehens.