LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell volleyball returns to the road for the third consecutive weekend to take part in the Akron Invitational Friday, Sept. 11 and Saturday, Sept. 12 in Akron, Ohio. The Bison (3-3) will play West Virginia at 5 p.m. and Akron at 7:30 p.m. on the opening day, followed by Saint Francis (Pa.) at 1:30 p.m. in their final contest of the tournament. Live stats for each match will be available on GoZips.com.
ABOUT THE BISON
Bucknell struggled last weekend at the Marist Volley in the Valley. The Bison were 1-2 with a win over Bryant. Kaitlin Segal (Pacific Palisades, Calif./Harvard-Westlake) and Heidi Kamp (Eugene, Ore./Henry D. Sheldon) were each named to the All-Tournament Team. Segal and Kamp finished the weekend with 38 and 25 kills, respectively, to lead the team. Segal also recorded five service aces and 16 digs, while Kamp chipped in seven total blocks.
Emily Sawanobori (Warren, N.J./Watchung Hills) has been Bucknell’s top server through the beginning of the season. The sophomore libero has 15 aces on the year, good for an average of 0.68 per set. Her total through the first two weeks of the season has already bettered her total for all of last year when she served 10 aces.
Allison Gittings (Dayton, Md./Glenelg) and Rachel Rodriguez (Sagamore Hills, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) have been sharing the setting duties and have put up near mirror statistics. With her season-high 38 assists against Providence on Sunday, Gittings has a slight edge over junior teammate. In six matches, Gittings has amassed 103 assists, while Rodriguez has 100. By hitting the century mark, Rodriguez has already smashed her previous single-season high of 40 set during her freshman campaign.
With their 3-1 win over Bryant last Saturday, the Bison surpassed the 400-win mark. Through just over 31 seasons, Bucknell has amassed an all-time record of 401-491-1.
Head coach Cindy Opalski is approaching a career milestone. Opalski will coach in her 700th career match when the Bison take on Saint Francis on Saturday.
Through the first two weeks of competition, Bucknell has been very evenly matched with its opponents. In addition to their 3-3 record, the Bison have kept pace in kills with a 252-250 overall advantage. They are also nearly even in total attempts with 741 compared to 744 for opponents and service aces with 40 compared to other teams’ 45.
ABOUT THE ZIPS
Bucknell and Akron have never played either each other in program history.
Akron is 5-2 in 2009, including its most recent trip to the Magnolia Classic in which it went 2-1 at the Ole Miss tournament. The Zips defeated the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and UAB each by a score of 3-2 before falling in straight sets to the host Rebels.
Senior outside hitter Brionna Patterson, who recently was named the Mid-American Conference East Division Offensive Player of the Week, leads the team in kills with 116 (3.87/set). Senior setter is also a team leader with 306 assists (10.20/set) on the year.
Defensively, the Zips rely on middle blockers Tina Dimitrijevs and Jackie Goleman, who have 20 and 19 blocks, respectively. Senior defensive specialist Megan Rodriguez also has a team-best 84 digs (3.0/set).
ABOUT THE MOUNTAINEERS
The match on Friday will be the first meeting between Bucknell and West Virginia.
West Virginia is 5-2 on the season, most recently going 3-1 at the University of Denver Tournament. The Mountaineers failed to drop a set in their first three matches, defeating Eastern Illinois, Air Force and Southern Utah. They then fell 3-2 to the host Denver.
Senior right side hitter Abby Raines leads the team with 76 kills (3.3/set), but West Virginia also has three other attackers with more than 50 kills in Lauren Evans (57), Kylie Armbruster (56) and Abby Norman (51). Sophomore Kari Post is tops in assists with 239 (10.39/set).
Evans is also the squad’s top blocker with 25 (1.09/set), while Bonnie West has 94 digs (4.09/set).
ABOUT THE RED FLASH
While the Bison have never faced their other opponents, they have a long history with Saint Francis. Since the series began in 1981, the two teams have played 35 times with Bucknell coming out on top on 29 occasions. In their last meeting, the Red Flash beat Bucknell 3-2 at the 2008 Bucknell Invitational.
Saint Francis is 1-6 in 2009 with their most recent match ending in a 3-1 loss to Delaware State. The team’s lone win came at the James Madison Tournament last weekend when it defeated Hampton 3-0.
Senior outside hitter Shirley Miller leads the Red Flash in kills and digs this year. With 81 kills (3.38/set), she has nearly double her next closest teammate. Senior Rikki Myers leads the team in assists with 186 (7.75/set). On the blocking front, freshmen Elizabeth Williams and Lauren Wingard, the reigning Northeast Conference Rookie of the Week, have 13 and 11 blocks, respectively. Myers is also in the mix with 12.
BUCKNELL’S AKRON INVITATIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, Sept. 11:
vs. West Virginia, 5 p.m.
at Akron, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 12:
vs. Saint Francis (Pa.), 1:30 p.m.
UP NEXT After spending the first three weeks of the season on the road, the Bison return to Lewisburg for their first home matches of 2009. The Bison will host the Bucknell Invitational, featuring Rutgers, Radford and Delaware State Sept. 18-19 at Davis Gym. Live stats for all matches will be available on GameTracker.