LEWISBURG, Pa. – The Bucknell volleyball team shocked Army with convincing wins in the first two sets of tonight’s match, executing flawless defense and capitalizing on every slip of its opponent, but ultimately dropped a 3-2 decision (25-19, 25-13, 17-25, 17-25, 14-16) in a fierce battle with the Black Knights in Davis Gym on Friday evening. The Bison drop to 8-12 overall and 1-9 in Patriot League play with the loss, while the win lifts the Black Knights to 12-8 and 9-1 in conference play.
“It was a great comeback from a lackluster showing at Colgate,” said head coach Anna Allison. “We came out strong and we played with a lot of maturity against a great team. Army is always strong on both offense and defense, and they are trained to survive. We stuck with them, and once you go to the fifth set it’s anybody’s game. We fought for every point, and unfortunately it didn’t come out our way but I am proud of them.”
Sophomore Karen Campbell led the Bucknell offense with 11 kills and a .409 hitting percentage and also served as a defensive stalwart for the Bison with a match-high nine blocks. Seniors Morgan Mientus and Kristen Titley were also crucial components of the team’s attack, contributing 10 kills each. Sophomore Meghan Wentzel and senior Rose Lewis split the setting duties, tallying 22 and 18 assists respectively, while sophomore Katie Price controlled the team’s defense with a match-high 27 digs.
Bucknell jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set of the evening, but Army answered with two kills and two service aces to draw even. The teams battled back and forth for a few points, but the Bison used a series of serves by freshman Jordan Walker to earn a 12-6 lead. The Black Knights snuck in two points, but two service aces by freshman Erika Eastley increased Bucknell’s advantage to 16-8. The teams exchanged tallies down the stretch, with Army coming within four at 23-19, but a kill by Mientus and an attack error by the Black Knights gave Bucknell the 25-19 win .
Lewis opened serve for the Bison in the second set, earning her squad a 7-0 lead before the Black Knights could even sneak in a point. Bucknell rode the early momentum through the set, taking a commanding 16-5 advantage and answering each of Army’s points with several of its own. The Bison preserved the convincing lead down the stretch, and two Black Knight errors sealed the 25-13 win for Bucknell.
Army sought revenge in the third set, but Bucknell would not go away quietly, allowing the visitors just a one point advantage at the set’s halfway point. Seven of the next eight points belonged to the Black Knights however, giving them a 22-13 lead over the Bison, and while Bucknell gained a few tallies of its own down the stretch, a kill by Army’s Olivia Fairfield gave the Black Knights a 25-17 victory.
The fourth set played out much like the third, with Army using a strong hitting game to play to a 15-9 lead. Three kills by Titley kept Bucknell alive, but an Army kill and an attack error by the Bison gave the Black Knights a 25-17 win and brought the match to a fifth set.
Action intensified in the fifth and final set, with both teams battling for each and every point and neither squad refusing to fall without a fight. Five early ties gave way to a 10-7 Army lead, but Bucknell grabbed seven of the next nine points to take the 14-12 advantage. The Black Knights tied things up at 14-14 before two consecutive kills gave them a 16-14 victory and the 3-2 match win.
Megan Wilton and Nicole Perri each had 15 kills for Army, while Vanessa Edwards tallied an impressive 55 assists. Margaux Jarka notched 19 digs, while Kerry Horan and Fairfield each added six blocks to the defense.
“I am excited about the tone that we have set for the second round of Patriot League play,” added Allison. “This match illuminates the strength of our team and proves how good we are when everyone on the court is united and playing together.”
The Bison will conclude their weekend of Patriot League action on Saturday afternoon with a 5 p.m. contest with the Holy Cross Crusaders in Davis Gym.