LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell volleyball head coach Anna Allison enters her second year in her current role excited about the upcoming season. The eight-year Bison assistant took over as head coach last year and sees her team just two weeks from opening the 2014 campaign at the Titan Classic in Fullerton, California.

Bucknell opened preseason practice earlier this week and is completing its fourth day of practices with a fourth consecutive two-a-day on Friday.

“I am really happy with our freshman class,” commented Allison, a three-time all-conference selection at Oral Roberts. “They came in very strong and read to go. They are go-getters. Everything I tell them to do, they just run with it.

“Our upperclassmen have also been awesome. They have embraced the freshmen and added them to the team with no friction. They are excited to tell the newcomers how we do things and teach them, and it’s really great to see that. We are a much more selfless team and are focused on growing together and learning together.”

While the Bison have just one senior (Kadri Lutter) on their roster this year, it is an experienced group. There are five juniors and five sophomores on the roster and the majority of those players have received significant playing time the last couple of years, including junior Karen Campbell and sophomore Erika Eastley, who both ranked in the top five in the Patriot League in blocks. Junior Katie Price ranked seventh in the league in digs from her libero position, while sophomore Keane Brazda was 10th in the conference in assists while splitting time at setter with the since-graduated Rose Lewis.

Over the first couple days of practice, Allison wanted her team to blend together as one unit and she has seen that happening.

“We’re in a little box,” said Allison about the size of the volleyball court. “Any other team sport has a really big space, but in volleyball you’re not. You end up needing to develop that sense of team faster, and that is something we have done.”

The team bonding will continue in a couple weeks when Bucknell boards the plane to fly to its season-opening tournament in California. Additionally, the Bison will be challenged on the court during that trip, which includes matches against host Cal State Fullerton, Texas Tech and Sacred Heart.

“That trip is a great opportunity to expose us to great competition,” explained Allison. “We did not schedule easy. Our pre-Patriot League schedule is going to prepare us for league play, but it is also going to help us mature as a team. The traveling is extremely important for team bonding. We will have a lot of time on the plane and a layover at the airport. You know your team is getting along when you land in California at midnight (3 a.m. Eastern) and see who is helping to carry which bags.

“The trip to California is also great because we have so many alums there and so many west coast women on our team. The former players and parents don’t come this way often, so it’s a great way to connect.”

The Bison will open the season with back-to-back road weekends before their first home matches Sept. 13 when they host their own Bucknell Invitational in Davis Gym.