By David F.P. [Modest Image Gallery]
NEW BRITAIN, CT-The Bucknell Bison were one of the three visiting teams to take part in Central Connecticut State University’s tournament and Saturday afternoon they faced the tournament hosts in a very hot Detrick Gymnasium at CCSU. The result would be a 5 set battle royale between the two teams that needed even more points than normal to settle. In the end Linda Sagnelli’s Blue Devils took the narrow win over the Cindy Opalski coached Bison team in a razor thin contest.
Set 1 would go to Bucknell 23-25, as the Bison got out to an early big lead and held on despite a late CCSU charge. The two teams played to a 7-7 including a block from Bucknell’s Anne Ellenberger and Kyleigh McAhren. For CCSU, Sara Delacey had an early kill at the net, Blaike King launched a missile, and later added two more points.
Ellenberger had another kill and shared a block with Jessica Serrato to give the Bison a two point lead. CCSU attack errors, a Serrato kill off the touch of a blue devil, a service ace from McAhren, and another block from Serrato and Ellenberger put their team up 8-14.
Central started to climb back into it with an ace from Emily Cochran, a kill from Delacey, as well as blast from Rademacher that hit an opponent and flew out of place. Bucknell scoring during this included Morgan Mientus’s huge spike, Kat Tauscher’s service ace, and Kebah Edoho’s kill.
The score was 13-20 when CCSU closed to within 1, only to have Ellenberger extend the lead to 2 again with another kill. Cochran cut the lead again and the score was actually tied at 21 on the next play after a central serve was not returned. Ellenberger’s spike regained the lead, and another Bucknell point would follow. The two teams exchanged points but with a 2 point lead, Bucknell soon had the win.
Set 2 was a 25-21 win for Central. The Blue Devils picked up an early lead though the Bison caught up to an 18-18 tie late in the set. Centrals offense consisted in part on Delacey hammering a kill early and two straight spikes from King. King and Rademacher would have their share of kills as play went on. Cochran wasn’t done either. Bucknell’s Serrato had an early kill, Edoho a block, and a kill later, Serrato’s cross court attack hit a gap in the CCCSU defense, Mientus had a string of successive kills, and teammate Leylin Marroquin served up an Ace during their late charge.
Cochran broke the tie with a spike, and Danielle Gasser extended the lead with an ace as her serve hit the net and dropped in to a hole in the Bucknell formation. Bucknell’s Hannah Young responded with a tip over the net, and a Central error tied things back up. Delacey however had two straight kills, and King added another, Bucknell was unable to return a fourth Central attack and despite a final Serrato kill, King ended the set strongly.
On to set 3 the two teams went, and it would take extra points to settle as Central narrowly edged the Bison 26-24. This result would not have been guessed from much of the set though as Bucknell raced out to a 1-7 lead thanks to Serrato’s early kill, a string of attack errors by CCSU, a block from Tauscher and a kill from Edoho.
Despite the deficit, Delacey unleashed a missile into the Bucknell zone, Jennifer Waddill had a big kill, and some visitor errors made the score a less daunting 4-7. Serrato’s cross court attack extended the lead again. King responded with a spike so massive the ball hit a Bison player and sailed far slamming into the wall of the gym. Waddill’s service ace cut the lead to 1, though some offensive errors put the Bison up 7-10.
Bucknell snagged a 12-18 lead after responding to a Rademacher wallop with a rocket from Edoho, and a block from Ellenberger and Young. CCSU attack errors, and a pair of Serrato kills added to the lead. CCSU for it’s part had kills from Rademacher and Waddill to not cede more of a deficit.
The Blue Devils once again fought back with Cochran ricocheting the ball off the blockers, and Delacey putting down an errant Bucknell pass at the net. The score was soon 16-18. Bucknell racked up numerous more points though and when Mientus struck again the score was 19-23.
CCSU caught up with a run of unanswered points, including King’s service ace, to tie the score at 23 to the crowd’s delight. Cochran took the lead with a kill off the block attempt. The Bison tied it up one more time, but a service error and attack error ended it 26-24.
Bucknell had to win set 4 to stay alive in the match and they did just that gaining a lead and holding on to a 25-19 win. Unlike in the earlier sets after a 6-6 tie, the door was not opened for CCSU to come back. The Bison offense consisted in part of Mientus going cross court early, a block from McAhren and Ellenberger, a kill from McAhren to break the 6-6 tie, an Ellenberger/Serrato Block, a kill from Edoho, a block and kill from McAhren, Marroquin serving up an ace right off the net and dropping it in, two more kills from the dangerous McAhren, and Serrato’s cross court attack. Serrato would typhoon an attack to the back court late in the set and Mientus would added a pair of kills. Edoho ended the set when she lined up and blasted the ball off the blue and white’s block.
CCSU’s own offensive effort included Delacey’s early block, a whap from Waddill that landed successfully, a block from Rademacher and Delacey, a kill just narrowly in bounds from Delacey, a pair of kills from King, a cross court lance from Rademacher, Brittany Schumacher’s service ace, and various kills from Waddill, King, Rademacher, and Cochran.
With each team tied at 2 sets, an abbreviated set 5 was necessary. Generally the matches are settled with a race to 15 points, that would not be enough to decide this close one though.
The two teams ended up at an 8-8 tie to start things off, McAhren had two early kills, followed by Serrato, and Serrato had a block, Hall’s tip added to things. For Central King and Rademacher had an early block, Rademacher added a kill and won a fight for the ball at the net as well. Cochran had a huge smash that also careened off an opponent and into the wall to tie it at 8.
Delacey’s block stuffed an attack and took the lead, though after a long volley the Bison tied it back up, so Delacey spiked the ball through their front line on the next play, only to have Mientus deliver the ball cross court, to which Delacey responded with a huge whap down to regain the lead. Bucknell responded again.
King’s kill was Central’s answer, and Serrato responded in kind from the Bison. King answered with another kill, as did Serrato. Cochran’s diagonal kill opened up the lead again but a Blue Devil attack error put the score at 14-14.
The two teams fought for the next point in the longest volley back and forth of the match, with neither team giving up and the ball just kept flying back and forth until CCSU finally picked up the point. Bucknell did not let that potential momentum killer stop them from tying it back and up and taking a lead. Waddill found a corner to place the ball into and the score was tied at 16.
Mientus took the lead again, but the Bison send an attack into the net, only to have Central serve out of bounds, but a spike attempt out of play place the two teams at 18-18.
King’s spike threaded the ball through the blockers, to take a lead but the Bison tied it up once again. This did not stop King from another kill, and the end of the match would follow on the ensuing point 21-19.
After a match that lasted nearly two and a half hours CCSU had the win, but both teams each had a match to follow to close out the tournament action in New Britain. Still the raucous home crowd had something to cheer about following this battle.
Editor’s Note: This is based on notes taken at the match, normally verified against the official play by play if possible. Reports focus on offense since it is easier to track but note defensive play whenever possible. It is difficult to note things like digs and assists although they are no doubt vital to the game. Also, a lot happens in a volleyball game, far more than can fit into a report, so this just notes some of it.