PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The Bucknell volleyball team has had runs where it has proven it belongs on the court with every one of its opponents this season, but the young Bison squad has been plagued by digging itself an early hole. That was again the case on Friday in a 3-1 loss to Penn, when the Bison stayed alive with a third-set win and showed their grit by nearly coming back from a nine-point deficit in a match-clinching fourth set.

The Bison dropped to 2-5 on the year, but have been shut out just one time through those first seven matches. Two of the losses came in five-set nailbiters. Penn improved to 1-4 after playing its first home match of the season. The contest was the first for both teams at the Penn Invitational.

Down 2-0 after 25-20 and 25-14 in the first two sets, the Bison staved off the shutout with an impressive 25-15 victory in the third set. Senior Jordan Walker led the way with four kills, while senior Erika Eastley did her part with four block assists.

Bucknell found itself down 17-8 in the fourth set before making a run, something it has shown its more than capable of doing this season. The Bison battled all the way back to cut the deficit to two, 23-21, on a kill by freshman Sophie Bullard, but the Quakers took two of the final three points to end the match.

Bullard tallied a career-high 12 kills with a .267 hitting percentage. Four players – sophomore Blake Buchholz, junior Hailey Stout, Eastley, and Walker – each finished with six kills. Bullard registered nine digs, coming up just short of her first career double-double.

Penn was paced by Caroline Furrer with 14 kills, 10 digs and six aces. Courtney Quinn chipped in with 11 kills.

Bucknell continues play at The Palestra with a pair of matches on Saturday. The Bison will take on George Mason at 10 a.m., and will conclude play at the event with a match against Howard at 5 p.m.