NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – Bucknell volleyball was impressive in its season opener Friday, rolling to a 3-0 win over NJIT on the first day of Central Connecticut State’s Blue Devil Classic. Led by senior Karen Campbell with 11 kills on 16 total attacks, the Bison posted a .301 hitting percentage.
Bucknell improved to 1-0 on the season, winning by scores of 25-19, 25-15, 25-23. It was the first season-opening win for the Bison since the 2012 team topped La Salle.
Campbell, who was one of four Bucknell players with at least eight kills, added two of the team’s six blocks, a category the Bison led the Patriot League in last season. Sophomore Hailey Stout had nine kills and 10 digs. Stephanie Occhiogrosso and Blake Buchholz, two of the three freshmen in the starting lineup for the Bison, tallied eight kills apiece. Occhiogrosso’s kills came with a .412 hitting percentage and nine digs, while Buchholz added 11 digs.
Senior Meghan Wentzel contributed 30 assists for Bucknell and had one of the team’s four aces. Sophomore Jenna Slusar had two aces. Jamie Risdal was the third freshman starter in the Bison lineup and finished with four kills on just six attacks.
“It was a great effort by our team in the first game of the season,” said Bucknell head coach Anna Allison. “They played hard and we received contributions from everyone. I’m really excited to see what we can do this season.”
Bucknell wasted little time in jumping out to a quick lead. The Bison went up 10-2 in the first set following seven straight service points by Buchholz. NJIT scored the first point of the match, but didn’t lead again until late in the third set when they broke an 18-18 tie with four of the next five points. The Bison allowed just one more point as they erased the 22-19 deficit and clinched the match.
The .301 hitting percentage for Bucknell is notable as the Bison went over .300 just twice in the previous two seasons. Those came in a 3-0 win over Fairleigh Dickinson in 2013 and a 3-0 win over Loyola (Md.) in 2014.
The Bison will play Central Connecticut State and Fairfield tomorrow at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively. The host Blue Devils recorded a 3-0 win over the Stags on Friday.