LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Bucknell volleyball team truly earned its 3-1 win (25-21, 16-25, 25-23, 25-15) over Patriot League newcomer Loyola in Davis Gym on Friday, combining an incredible offensive effort with well-timed defense to take its first conference win of the season. Every Bison on the court contributed to the thrilling victory, lifting the squad’s record to 7-9 overall and 1-6 in league play. With the loss, the Greyhounds fall to 5-13 overall and 2-4 in Patriot League action.
“I think that truly showed how strong of a team we can be,” said Anna Allison of her first Patriot League win as Bucknell’s head coach. “We have been working on our stamina and really sticking with each point in practice, and tonight everything clicked. From top to bottom, from seniors to freshman, everyone came together to earn that win.”
Sophomore Karen Campbell had an especially impressive game for the Bison, hitting a match-high .533 with nine kills and a team-high six blocks. Freshman Jordan Walker also put forth strong offensive numbers, notching 10 kills over the course of four sets. Senior Rose Lewis added 19 assists to the attack, while sophomore Katie Price contributed a match-high 15 digs to the defense. As a team, Bucknell outhit Loyola with a .259 hitting percentage, including a strong .379 average in the final set.
Loyola was lead by Jac Bullock who had a match-high 15 kills and seven blocks, while Micah Duzey anchored the defense with 14 digs. Lauren Anderson had a match-high 21 assists for the Greyhounds and Kelly McShea was right behind her with 18. The team hit .189 for the match, with an impressive .433 percentage in its second set win.
Bucknell opened the first set with a kill by senior Morgan Mientus before settling into a battle with Loyola that lasted through each and every point. After the Greyhounds knotted the score at three, the Bison grabbed eight out of the next 12 points to take an 11-7 lead over the visitors. Loyola narrowed Bucknell’s lead to one at 14-13, but three kills by Walker increased the Bison lead to 18-14. The Greyhounds challenged down the stretch, taking two of the last three points, but the Bison kept the pressure on, and an attack error by Loyola gave Bucknell a 25-21 win.
Loyola sought revenge in the second set, taking a 10-4 lead over Bucknell in the early minutes of action. Kills from Eastley and senior Jessica Serrato brought the Bison within four, but the Greyhounds took nine of the next 12 points to build a 22-12 advantage. Bucknell continued to register kills through the last points of the set, but a Loyola kill earned the visitors the 25-16 win and evened the match 1-1.
The third set started in similar fashion to the second, with the Greyhounds jumping out to a 7-3 lead. However, the Bison began to feed off of their own energy after two kills from Campbell brought them within one, scoring four consecutive points to take a 13-11 lead. The teams exchanged scoring runs during the middle points of the set, but a kill by freshman Erika Eastley put Bucknell ahead 16-20 and the Bison never looked back. Four kills and a service ace by sophomore Meghan Wentzel earned Bucknell a 25-23 win in the night’s closest set.
The fourth and final set was all Bucknell, as a Mientus kill gave the Bison an 8-5 lead that they never relinquished. Eight of the next ten points belonged to Bucknell, as the team built a 16-7 lead over Loyola, and another five-point streak late in the set put the Bison up 21-11, their largest lead of the night. Walker and senior Kristen Titley each contributed kills in the final points of the night, but an attack error by Loyola sealed Bucknell’s 25-15 victory and first Patriot League win of the season.
“They were invested and they were in it,” added Allison. “I’m so proud of them. They’ve been working really, really hard and I’m confident that this win can set a new tone for us.”
The Bison will have the rest of the weekend off before taking a trip to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Oct. 15 for a 5 p.m. non-conference match-up against Howard. Bucknell will follow that up with two games against defending Patriot League champion Colgate, welcoming the Raiders to Davis Gym on Friday, Oct. 18 before traveling to Hamilton, N.Y. on Tuesday, Oct. 22.