MOON, Pa. – The Bucknell volleyball team nearly knocked off returning national qualifier Robert Morris, but fell 18-16 in the fifth set to close play at the Duquesne/Robert Morris Invitational. The Bison dropped their match at Duquesne in three sets earlier in the day and finished the event with a 1-2 record.
“It’s not easy to play on the road, but we must learn to do it if we want to be successful,” said Bucknell head coach Anna Allison. “The positive is that every match I can see us getting better. We are already looking forward to next weekend.”
Senior Erika Eastley had eight block assists over the final two matches, giving her 245 for her career. That moves her into fifth on Bucknell’s all-time list, 32 behind Heidi Kamp (2007-10) for fourth. Eastley tallied 12 total blocks on the day and moved into sixthon Bucknell’s record book in that category with 309. She is 14 behind Kamp for fifth.
The Bison return home with a record of 2-4 on the season. They will continue non-conference play with three matches at the Penn Invitational on Sept. 9-10. In addition to the host Quakers, they will play George Mason and Howard.
Duquesne 3, Bucknell 0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-22)
Duquesne swept Bucknell on its way to a perfect 4-0 record in the tournament and improved to 6-2 on the season. The Dukes won for the seventh straight time in the series, with the most recent matchup coming in 2012.
Coming off a double-double in a win over Coppin State on Friday night, junior Hailey Stout was solid again for the Bison. She had nine kills with a .533 hitting percentage and added nine digs. Freshman Sophie Bullard was right behind her with eight kills and had 13 digs. Freshman Brooke Stark led the team with 19 digs.
Duquesne had five players with at least eight kills, led by Abbie Trzeciak with 10. Maddie Bazelak and Molly Davet added nine apiece.
Robert Morris 3, Bucknell 2 (22-25, 29-27, 11-25, 25-19, 18-16)
Bucknell had the defending champions in the Northeast Conference on the ropes, but Robert Morris recorded wins in the final two sets to clinch the match. The Colonials, who were picked to repeat in the preseason poll, improved to 4-2 on the season.
Bucknell trailed 13-8 in the final set before battling back to tie it multiple times. Trailing 17-16, a Bison attack appeared to go off a Robert Morris player and out of bounds, but after some deliberation it was determined that the ball went off the net. The point and match went to the Colonials.
“We never want to blame the outcome of a match on the refs,” Allison said. “Even though we had numerous calls that didn’t go our way, we have to learn to control our play.”
The fifth set was the second time in the match that the Bison were doomed by a slow start and nearly pulled off an improbable comeback. They trailed 17-8 in the second set before fighting back to tie it at 21-21. The Bison even took a 26-25 lead on an ace by junior Hana Sawanobori, but the Colonials went on to win the set 29-27 to tie the match.
Despite the loss, Bucknell did put together one of its best sets of the season with a 25-11 blowout victory to go up 2-1 after the third. The Bison scored 16 of the final 19 points, including the final eight to close it out.
Eastley put together her best match of the season with 12 kills and 10 total blocks, including three solo. Sophomore Blake Buchholz, freshman Bridgette Holland and senior Jordan Walker also finished with 12 blocks. Buchholz added 20 digs, and Walker tallied 16 as both players recorded double-doubles. Stark registered 28 digs, and freshman Selby Schnobrich continued to put up big numbers with 57 assists.
Arden Fisher and Taylor Lord had 13 kills apiece for Robert Morris. The Colonials did more damage with blocks, finishing with 26. Leah Dunivan led the way with nine block assists.