The Panthers kicked off their first conference match of the season in a heated clash Sept. 14 against the University of Redlands Bulldogs. The Panthers came into the match with an 8-1 start to the season.
Freshman setter Sophie Srivastava established the match’s competitive tone early in the first set, leading the team with seven assists and three kills. Srivastava’s defensive work, which included a match-winning block, complemented her offensive performance.
Srivastava said she credits her teammates for anchoring the team’s offense and defense.
“When I’m going down, I know there’s going to be somebody to bring me back up,” Srivastava said, “Even when we’re down, we’re cheering each other on.”
The Panthers started the first set on a 12-3 run and ended the set 25-21. Despite offensive struggles, Courtney Justus, senior outside hitter and team captain, was able to record six digs for the team during the second set, which propelled the Panthers forward with a solid defensive effort.
The Panthers cruised through the second set of the game, winning 25-16 and taking a 2-0 lead.
In the third set the Bulldogs went inch-for-inch with the Panthers in an attempt to keep the game alive. Throughout the first half, the team managed to stay close to Chapman, keeping the score 14-14.
With Chapman down 16-15, Srivastava set freshman outside hitter Jessi Lumsden up for a momentum-swinging kill, tying the match, but the Panthers fell short to the bulldogs in the third set, losing 25-22.
“We know what brings each other down and what brings each other up,” Srivastava said. “We’re able to pick each other up when we need to.”
Entering the fourth set, the Panthers looked to put the match away from the start. However, the Bulldogs managed to stay within striking distance of the Panthers, keeping the score close at 10 points each.
After a series of offensive possessions, Lumsden delivered a crucial kill, giving the Panthers a 14-11 advantage.
As the match drew to an end, senior middle blocker Lauren Friend delivered a block and a kill, giving the Panthers a 21-17 lead.
“The adrenaline rush definitely comes when I can feel the energy shifting,” Friend said.
The Panthers ended the last set 25-19, completing a 3-1 win against the Bulldogs, extending their streak to seven wins. Chapman takes on Occidental at 7 p.m. Sept. 18 at home.