LEWISBURG, Pa. – Sophomore Sophie Bullard recorded a double-double with 19 kills and 11 digs as Bucknell opened the 2017 volleyball season with a 3-2 non-conference win over visiting La Salle on Friday night at Davis Gym. The Bison trailed 2-1 but rallied for the five-set victory, 25-21, 20-25, 17-25, 25-17, 15-8.
The match was the first for the Bison in the three-day Bucknell Invitational. They will play Iona on Saturday at 3 p.m., and will host Saint Peter’s on Sunday at noon. NJIT is also competing in the event.
Bullard was joined with double-digit kills by junior Blake Buchholz with 14, while sophomore Mimi Richards was just one shy with nine. Led by a .375 hitting percentage by Bullard, the Bison hit .272 as a team, including over .300 in both the first and last sets.
Bucknell jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a 25-21 victory in the first set. Bullard set the tone early with seven kills and no errors on 11 attacks. The Bison trailed for just one serve the entire set before Bullard tied it 9-9 with a kill off an assist from freshman Charner Ramsey. With a 20-19 lead, the Bison then closed the set with a 5-2 advantage.
Things got away from Bucknell in the next two sets and La Salle looked to have taken control, but the Bison bounced back in the fourth with an easy 25-17 victory. It was again Bullard who led the way with five kills, while Richards tallied four kills and had four total blocks.
The result was never really in doubt in the deciding set as Bucknell rolled to a 15-8 win. Bullard gave her team a 5-1 lead with a kill off an assist from senior Luz Nagle before La Salle made its final run to close the gap to 9-7. The Bison scored six of the final seven points, including blocks for three of the last four. Senior Celeste Barker put the team up 12-8 with a solo block, teamed with senior Hailey Stout on a block to make it 14-8, and closed the match with a block assist alongside Buchholz.
Bucknell’s defense was strong throughout the match, finishing with 15 blocks compared to just five for La Salle. Barker finished with two solo and five block assists, Richards had one solo and assisted on six, and Nagle tallied four block assists.
Sophomore Brooke Stark played all five sets at libero and led the team with 21 digs. Ramsey and Nagle split time at setter and finished with an identical 23 assists.
Devin Corah and Bryanna Davis paced the Explorers with 17 kills apiece. Kathryn Wood led all players with 39 assists.
In the first match of the invitational, Iona held off NJIT, 3-2. Iona and La Salle open play on Saturday at 10 a.m.