Box Score: Army 3, Bucknell 0
LEWISBURG, Pa. - Sophomore OH Ariana Mankus and freshman MB Megan Wilton led the Army attack with 10 kills apiece as the Black Knights picked up a 3-0 win over Bucknell in the Patriot League regular-season finale for both teams on Saturday night at Davis Gym.
Army collected the win by way of 25-21, 25-20, 25-21 scores, as the Black Knights improved to 18-13 overall and 11-3 in Patriot League play. The Black Knights had already clinched the No. 2 seed in next weekend's Patriot League Tournament, hosted by top-seed American, and will play No. 3 Colgate in Saturday's semifinals. Colgate topped Army by a 3-1 score on Friday night in Hamilton, N.Y.
Bucknell had secured the fourth and final spot in the Patriot League Tournament by way of a 3-1 win over visiting Holy Cross on Friday night.
Army hit for a .224 percentage as a team, led by Wilton's blistering .529 percentage. The rookie sensation totaled 10 kills and had just one error in 17 attempts. She added four blocks in the standout effort. Mankus hit .259 on the match.
Freshman RS Margaux Jarka added nine kills, while sophomore RS Francine Vasquez and senior MB Amanda Rowell totaled six and five kills, respectively.
Senior S Karyn Powell was the only Army player to record a double-double on the night. She led the defense with 16 digs to go with her match-high 38 assists. Senior L Brittany Jensen collected 15 digs as the Army defense held Bucknell's offense to a .130 hitting percentage. The Black Knights also totaled eight blocks to Bucknell's three.
The teams played back-and-forth to start the match. Army used a 5-2 run to turn a 7-7 battle into a 12-9 lead midway through the action. Clinging to a 16-15 lead, the Black Knights went on to score three unanswered points and enjoy a 19-15 cushion. Freshman OH/DS D.J. Phee capped the run with her lone service ace of the match. Army continued to roll from there and the final five-point margin (25-20) matched the largest of the first set.
Bucknell jumped out to an early 4-2 advantage to start the second set, but a Wilton kill jumpstarted a 7-0 Army run during which Army rode the serving consistency of Vasquez to take a 9-2 lead. The Black Knights would not trail again. The Bison pulled within one (15-14) at the midway point, but a Jarka kill put the ball back in Vasquez's capable serving hands. Vasquez served for the next three points and Army never looked back, holding at least a three-point lead from there.
Coming out of the break, the Bison took control of the third set by taking a 13-9 lead on a Rachel Rodriguez kill. Army head coach Alma Kovaci then called timeout and her Black Knights responded with an 8-2 run to take a 17-15 lead when Mankus and Rowell teamed for a double-block. Bucknell rallied to tie the score at 20-20, but the Black Knights got two Jarka kills and consecutive Vasquez service aces en route to the 25-20 victory.
Bucknell's Katie Baumgarten led the Bison with nine kills. The Bison fell to 10-16 overall and 8-6 in Patriot League play.
Army, which captured its first conference title in 15 years in 2009, will begin its defense of the Patriot League title next Saturday, Nov. 20, against Colgate. Semifinal times are set for 4 and 6 p.m. at American's Bender Arena. The Patriot League Championship match will be played on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 4 p.m.
Match Notes: Saturday night served as Senior Night at Bucknell ... Army will participate in the Patriot League Tournament for the 12th-straight year.