BRONX, N.Y. - For the second time in the tournament Bucknell volleyball was pushed to five sets, but the Bison could not pull out the win, falling 3-2 to Stony Brook in the final match of the Rose Hill Classic on Saturday night. The Bison's record now stands at 4-6 on the year heading into their home opener next weekend when they welcome Fordham, Providence and Quinnipiac to Davis Gym for the Bucknell Tournament.
"We're playing against better competition that's challenging us to elevate our game. I think we're understanding that a little bit better and we're getting much more positive results, especially from the defensive side of our game," said head coach Cindy Opalski after the match. "Kebah Edoho continues to play strong at the net. We're challenged sometimes to get her the ball, and we need to get her the ball a little bit more often.
"I think overall you always look for bright spots on the weekend, and one of those bright spots is clearly Morgan Mientus. She's been holding us together defensively in each of the tournaments we've played so far."
Bucknell nearly pulled off a comeback on Saturday against Stony Brook (4-6), a team the Bison now have failed to defeat in the series' nine meetings. The Sea Wolves won the opening set 25-12 before Bucknell took the next two 25-23 and 25-23. With its back against the wall, Stony Brook rebounded for the final two frames, 25-16 and 15-12.
Bucknell's success midway through play came despite some shaky offense. The Bison recorded a .053 attack percentage in the first set and only improved slightly in the next two sets to .081 and .093. The Sea Wolves had their own woes occasionally, particularly in the third frame when they hit .060.
"It's a set of lessons each time we step on the floor," said Opalski. "We're learning good lessons and making less errors, but we need to continue to improve, especially at the net, terminating the ball and stringing some good points together from the service line."
It was during that set that Bucknell benefitted most from Stony Brook's miscues. The Sea Wolves led by as many as six in the third and had a five-point advantage as late at 19-14. Claire Healy (Tiburon, Calif./Saint Ignatius College Prep), Kebah Edoho (Odenton, Md./Arundel) and Kat Tauscher (Washington, D.C./National Cathedral School) made up much of the offense and Bucknell took advantage of Stony Brook's errors to pull in front shortly after. Edoho got things started with one of her seven kills in the match, and Tauscher added two aces. By the time Stony Brook started to right itself, Bucknell had gone on an 8-0 run and had taken a 22-19 lead.
Healy threw in another kill and Hannah Young (McConnellsburg, Pa./Broadfording Christian Academy (Md.)) ended the set with a kill of her own, to put Bucknell in front two sets to one. Healy ultimately led the Bison in kills with nine. She also had 11 digs, second only to Morgan Mientus' (Chicago, Ill./Saint Ignatius College Prep) 27.
As quickly as momentum seemed to go in Bucknell's favor, it shifted back to Stony Brook even faster. The Bison struggled to get any kind of run going in the fourth frame, opening the door to even the match at two sets all. They got back on track in the beginning of the fifth, however, taking a 5-2 lead on a Stony Brook ball handling error.
While the Sea Wolves kept it close for the next several points, they finally got the look they needed down the stretch. Four kills in five points, three of which went to Evann Slaughter, erased Bucknell's 8-6 lead and put Stony Brook in front 12-9. The Bison could draw no closer than two after that, resulting in their fourth straight loss.
With freshman Healy leading in kills, it was another rookie, Meghan Wentzel, that posted the team high in assists with 19. Through three matches, Healy tied Jessica Serrato (Millbrae, Calif./Saint Ignatius College Prep) for the team lead with 23 kills. Tauscher, who had 18 assists against Stony Brook, finished her weekend with 52, while Wentzel had 44 assists through three matches. Defensively, Mientus had 54 digs, and Karen Campbell (Chesapeake, Va./Cape Henry Collegiate) registered 11 blocks.
When the Bison next hit the court, it will be for the Bucknell Tournament Sept. 14-15, their first home event of the season. The Orange and Blue will face Fordham, a team they lost to in straight sets in the first match today, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Saturday's competition will include Providence at noon and Quinnipiac at 5 p.m.
"We're excited to play in the friendly confines of Davis Gym. The road trips have been very educational, but they've been very challenging and tiring for us," said Opalski. "Hopefully getting home on the Davis Gym court, we'll be able to do a little payback to our Fordham friends as well as really have a nice effort on the weekend."