Lewisburg, Pa. - In an exciting match in front of a Family Weekend crowd, the Bucknell volleyball team went toe-to-toe with the perennially strong American Eagles for three exciting sets before falling, 3-0. The final set scores were 25-22, 25-17 and 25-21, but even those do not illuminate the closeness of the contest, as both squads competed for every point. The outcome dropped the Bison to 6-7, with an 0-3 record in the Patriot League, and improved the Eagles to 16-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
"I think we did a great job of coming back from last night's performance," said head coach Anna Allison. "Our level of play really got better in a tough match against a strong opponent. Everyone knows American is always a good team, and we stepped up big time."
Play began with American striking first, but then saw the two teams trade leads on lengthy rallies with neither side able to build more than a two-point advantage through the first half of the set. Bucknell answered every opposing point with one of its own, never allowing American more than a four-point lead. However, the Eagles managed to stay just one step ahead of the Bison as play wound down, eking out a 25-22 win in spite of three consecutive kills by senior Morgan Mientus late in the set.
Bucknell came out firing in the second set, grabbing the first point on a kill by senior Kristen Titley and then jumping out to a 3-1 lead on two errors by American. The Eagles rallied however, taking the next seven points to build an 8-3 advantage over the Bison. Bucknell kept the pressure on throughout, as several players contributed impressive offensive and defensive plays, but it wasn't enough, as American tallied two consecutive kills to take the set, 25-17.
Both teams played hungrily in the third and final set of the night's match, with American the ultimate victor by a score of 25-21. The Eagles took the early lead, building a 9-0 advantage before the Bison could find their way onto the board. Bucknell came storming back however, as two kills by freshman Erika Eastley and one by classmate Jordan Walker narrowed American’s lead to 23-21. A kill for the Eagles and an error for the Bison brought the match to a close however, giving American the 3-0 win over Bucknell.
Titley tallied a team-high seven kills in the Bison’s loss, while Walker contributed six. Senior Rose Lewis added a service ace and 12 assists, and sophomore Meghan Wentzel contributed ten helpers. Sophomore Karen Campbell and Eastly each had four blocks, a match-high, and libero Kristen Parks came away with a match-high of her own, digging 14 times in the game. As a squad, Bucknell turned in an impressive .265 hitting percentage in the first set.
Juliana Crum led the way for American with 15 kills, while Monika Smidova contributed 25 assists. Libero Megan Rosburg had 14 digs, tying her with Parks for the match-high. American outhit Bucknell in each of the three sets, turning in a match-high of .389 in the second.
"We played consistantly, we played with maturity and we played aggressively," said Allison. "That is something we have been striving towards this season, and it finally clicked. We are excited to carry this momentum over into our matches next weekend."
The Bison will continue Patriot League play on Saturday, Oct. 5 when they welcome the Lehigh Mountain Hawks to Davis Gym. On Sunday, Oct. 6 the team will travel to Easton, Pa. to take on the Lafayette Leopards.