Volleyball digs deep at Penn Invitational

Becky Chambers, Contributing Writer

The volleyball team traveled to Philadelphia to face the University of Pennsylvania, George Mason University, and Howard University during the Penn Invitational on Sept. 9–10. Despite the Bison’s 0-3 weekend, Sophie Bullard ’20 was named to the all-tournament team for her standout performance.

The Orange and Blue first took to the court on Sept. 9 to face Penn. Penn took the first two sets (25-20, 25-14) before the Bison came back to win the third set 25-15. Unfortunately, Penn won the fourth and final set 25-22. The Bison battled hard with notable performances coming from Jordan Walker ’17, Erika Eastley ’17, Blake Buchholz ’19, and Hailey Stout ’18, who had six kills apiece. Eastley also tallied four block assists. Bullard had a career-high 12 kills, a .267 hitting average, and nine digs while Kristen Parks ’17 totaled 18 digs.

Even with the tournament off to a shaky start, Parks and Bullard remained positive.

“I have a positive mindset and the best teammates behind me,” Parks said.

“I think our team is getting better game by game although we have ways to go,” Bullard said. “This weekend wasn’t our best but we see our potential in stretches and if we keep working hard and fixing the little things, we have a chance of being top four in the league. We are working hard to stay positive and work ‘AS ONE’ because we are such a new team.”

On Sept. 10, the Bison competed against George Mason for the first time since 1988. The game started off strong as the Orange and Blue won the first two sets 25-16 and 25-17. George Mason quickly retaliated by winning the remaining three sets to take the win. Walker had nine kills, while Stout tallied eight kills and five block assists. Bridgette Holland ’20 finished the game with eight kills and six block assists. Bullard outpaced Parks’ 16 digs with 17 of her own and managed her first career double-double, adding 11 kills.

Even though the Orange and Blue was also unable to win against Howard, the team played very well. Bullard managed nine kills and 10 digs, while Holland had seven kills and Stout had six.

“Although we didn’t come out with any match wins these weekend, this was the first time our team showed the ability to come out strong and play together, right from the start,” Parks said. “We played some talented teams this weekend, which gave us the opportunity not only to get better, but to learn to shake off errors and instead focus on the next point. We need to work on playing more consistently when the game is on the line, but I think that will come as we get more experienced playing with each other on the court. I am so excited about our season. We have one more weekend until Patriot League starts, and we couldn’t be more ready to compete against these teams. It’s going to be a record-breaking year, I can promise that.”

The Bison will be back in action for the Bucknell Invite in Lewisburg on Sept. 16–17 against Cornell, Oakland, and Buffalo.

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