LEWISBURG, Pa, -- Bucknell put itself right back in the playoff race with a big 3-2 win over visiting Lehigh in a Patriot League volleyball match Friday night at Davis Gym. In a back-and-forth contest, the Bison improved to 11-12 overall and 5-6 in the conference, winning 25-21, 26-28, 25-21, 21-25, 15-12.
Bucknell entered the day two matches behind Lehigh for the fourth and final spot in the Patriot League Tournament but now sit just one match back after dropping the Mountain Hawks to 15-10 overall and 6-5 in league play. Colgate was tied with Bucknell for fifth, but after being off on Friday, will play Navy on Saturday. The Bison have five matches remaining on the schedule.
Sophomore Mimi Richards had two block assists in the win, giving her a Bucknell record 106 on the season. With plenty of time left to add to her total, she already passed the previous record of 105 set by Melissa Wharton in 1996.
But Richards hasn’t been the only one wreaking havoc at the net for Bucknell this season. Senior Celeste Barker tallied eight block assists against the Mountain Hawks and now has 79 total blocks (19 solo, 60 block assists) on the year. Richards leads the Patriot League in blocks/set and Barker joins her in the top 10.
Barker had a great all-around match, adding 10 kills to her high block total. Bullard led the team with 18 kills, while Richards finished with 10 on .318 hitting.
Bucknell’s win came in dramatic fashion as it clinched the victory with a 5-0 run in the fifth set. Trailing 12-10, the Bison’s run started on a pair of mistakes by Lehigh on a service error and an attack error. Following a timeout by the Mountain Hawks, Barker and senior Hailey Stout combined on a block to put the Bison up by one, and Barker made it match point with a kill on the next serve.
In fitting fashion to one of Bucknell’s biggest strengths, the Bison closed the match with a block by Barker and Stout. They finished with 11 blocks during the match and still lead the conference in that category.
Senior Luz Nagle had a solid match for Bucknell with 22 assists, while freshman Alexa Bonanno added 17. Sophomore Brook Stark had a team-high 22 digs, while Bullard finished off a double-double with 14 digs.
Ana Spangenberg led Lehigh with 21 kills. Lauren Bright was the most efficient player for the Mountain Hawks, finishing with 14 kills and a .414 hitting percentage.
Bucknell has now split the season series with Lehigh in consecutive seasons.
The Bison will look to keep pace in the race for a playoff spot when it travels to play Lafayette on Sunday at 4 p.m.