Sept. 1, 2012
PITTSBURGH - Bucknell volleyball improved to 4-2 overall and 4-0 in four-set matches this year after defeating Loyola (Md.) 20-25, 28-26, 25-13, 25-18 at the A.J. Palumbo Center on Saturday afternoon. Claire Healy (Tiburon, Calif./Saint Ignatius College Prep) was a key player both offensively and defensively as the rookie recorded her first career double-double with 13 kills and 10 digs. After a 3-1 win over Robert Morris last night, Bison will look to stay undefeated at the Duquesne/Robert Morris Invitational later today, taking on the host Dukes at 7 p.m.
Bucknell had two hitters finish in double-digit kills against Loyola (4-5), but the total was nearly four. While Healy led the way with a career-best 13 kills, Jessica Serrato (Millbrae, Calif./Saint Ignatius College Prep) had 12, giving her a two-match total of 29. Kebah Edoho (Odenton, Md./Arundel) and Karen Campbell (Chesapeake, Va./Cape Henry Collegiate) each had nine kills and hit .500 or better.
Much of the offense ran through freshman Meghan Wentzel (San Anselmo, Calif./The Branson School), who tallied a career-best 33 assists.
"The balance in our offense, having 48 kills and having them really spread very evenly through our four primary hitters, was a testament to not only Meghan's decision making and distribution but also to our upperclassmen stepping up and doing what we needed them to do to score some points," said head coach Cindy Opalski, who now has 399 career wins. "Meghan came out and ran the offense. It was pretty encouraging to see a freshman come off the bench with an injury situation happening and step up and really perform well. She's doing the kinds of things that we need her to do to learn our offense and perform well."
Both Bucknell and Loyola finished with 48 kills as a team, but the Bison came out on top in attack percentage at a season-best .297. The Greyhounds finished the match at .205.
"Overall I think that we hit well as a team," said Opalski. "We didn't get off to a good start against this Loyola team. I think it's changing a whole system around that put us a little bit on our heels, but I was really pleased with how we came back after the first game of the match. Playing tough in the second set of the match, we regrouped."
Although they kept the score close, the Bison never had a lead in the first set. It wasn't until late in the second that Bucknell was able to claim a scoring advantage. A surge down the stretch put the Orange and Blue in front 19-18. The rest of the set featured back-and-forth play. Bucknell had the final word on a Serrato kill, evening the match at a set apiece after the 28-26 second-set decision.
The third set was not nearly the nail biter as the previous two. Kellye Zobrist (Scottsdale, Ariz./Notre Dame Prep) sparked Bucknell's offense from the service line. The junior served back-to-back aces to give the Bison a 9-6 lead. She later added three straight aces for 23-13 and finished out the frame on her own serve as the Greyhounds gave up the final points on a pair of errors.
"We got great contribution from Kellye Zobrist," said Opalski. She's one of our serving specialists, and she stepped in on three different occasions. We got five service aces from her and just a great job from the service line to really get us on two significant runs to win the match."
Zobrist's five aces was a career high. Bucknell registered nine service aces as a team, which set a season high.
The Bison maintained a narrow lead throughout the fourth and final set before Zobrist came up big yet again to close the deal. The Bison got five points off her serve and found themselves with their first comfortable lead of the frame at 23-16. Healy with a kill and Wentzel with her own service ace finished things off for Bucknell's second win of the tournament.
Bucknell's win this afternoon was its third straight over Loyola, although it was the first time the two teams had met since 2003.