2000 Patriot League Volleyball Tournament To Be Hosted By Bucknell
Nov. 14, 2000
Lewisburg, Pa. - After failing to repeat as conference champions in 1999, the Bucknell volleyball team has captured the 2000 Patriot League regular season title and the right to host the league tournament this coming weekend.
The first round of action will begin on Saturday, November 18, with number one seed Bucknell playing the number four seed Lehigh at 11:30 a.m. Colgate, the number two seed, will play third-seeded Army at 2:00 p.m., or 30 minutes following the completion of the first contest. The championship game will be played on Sunday, November 19, at 1:00 p.m. to decide who will represent the Patriot League in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament.
A tenacious schedule on the road saw the Bison get off to a slow 2-10 start, but the Herd closed out the last 17 games of the season with 13 victories and only four losses. Head Coach Cindy Opalski's team finished with a 15-14 overall record and a 10-2 conference record in the second year of double round robin competition in the Patriot League. The two conference losses marring the Orange and Blue's record came at the hands of their first round opponent, Lehigh. Even though Bucknell is the number one seed in the tournament, it will first have to hurdle past the Mountain Hawks before having to prepare for the winner of the Colgate/Army contest.
The volleyball program has had an outstanding season, breaking two team and four individual records in 2000. The 2000 squad has recorded 1452 kills after 29 contests. The previous record had been 1407. In Bucknell's final match of the season against Colgate, the team surpassed the old record of 1249 team assists in a season with 1256 handouts. Both team records that were broken this season were set the last time the Bison won the Patriot League, in 1998.
Leading the hitting attack for the Bison this season are senior Brooke Bader (Elyria, Ohio/Elyria) and junior Shannon Walker (Fairfield, Conn./Fairfield). Bader has been serving as co-captain of this year's team with classmate Nicole LaMothe (Meriden, Conn./Orville H. Platt) and has been extremely consistent for the Bison, averaging 2.92 kills and 2.95 digs per contest. Walker, the more powerful of the two middle hitters, has been named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week three times this season. Currently, Walker is averaging 3.57 kills per game while maintaining a solid hitting percentage of .286.
Junior setter Whitney Williams (LaJolla, Calif./LaJolla) had several career performances this year and has been solely responsible for three broken records. On November 3, in the contest versus Lafayette, Williams broke the Bucknell season assist mark by an individual with 958. The old record was 957 assists by Amy Turnshek in 1997. Since that contest Williams has brought her season-mark to 1069 assists. She also set a new individual match best for assists when she passed the ball 61 times to teammates on October 3 against Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y. Williams has also garnered Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors once this season.
The key to the Bucknell volleyball team is balance and that is exactly what Coach Opalski has with this team in 2000. Complimenting the offensive achievements of the Bison, the two other members of the starting six have done a superb job digging their competitor's hits. Freshman Brandi Trapasso (N. Tonawanda, N.Y./North Tonawanda) and sophomore Jen Wrigley (Benicia, Calif./Benicia) have been the backbone of the defensive front for Bucknell this season. Between the two of them, they have been named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week three times this season. When the Bison hosted Holy Cross on October 27, Trapasso broke Bucknell's single-game record for digs when she finished the contest with a total of 32 defensive digs. She is currently averaging 3.78 digs per contest while Wrigley has been equally impressive by averaging 3.43 digs per game with a season-high of 28 at Holy Cross on October 7.
Coach Opalski and her volleyball team have come a long way since their initial 2-10 start at the beginning of the season. This coming weekend the Herd will have the opportunity to prove their worth and an opportunity to prolong the season and compete in the NCAA Tournament. The Patriot League Championship Tournament will take place in Davis Gymnasium, located on the campus of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. The cost of admission will be $5 for adults and all students and children will be admitted free.
ATTENTION all media: The box scores and statistics from the tournament will be available on fax-on-demand. To access the Bucknell system dial 770-558-6000 and at the prompt enter 728. The volleyball statistics will be in box #1086.