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Patterson, Lunsford lead Bulldogs to 3-1 win over Red Flash in NEC opener Saturday

Patterson, Lunsford lead Bulldogs to 3-1 win over Red Flash in NEC opener Saturday

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Rookie Ava Patterson (Danville, Calif.) and junior Ally Lunsford (Minneola, Fla.) recorded the only two double-digit kill outings of the match as the Bryant University volleyball team opened Northeast Conference action with a 3-1 win over Saint Francis U. on the road Saturday afternoon.

Both players hit better than 40 percent, with Patterson's 11 kills and .450 attack percentage both good for contest bests. Lunsford added 10 kills and a .438 hitting clip, while both added three blocks on the day for the Bulldogs (9-9, 1-0 NEC). Senior captain Vika Katzen (Kfar Saba, Israel) posted the match's only double-double with 32 assists and 14 digs – both team highs – while junior libero Erica Vendituoli (Nashua, N.H.) added 13 digs. Sophomore Julia Flynn (Pembroke, Mass.) chipped in nine kills and seven digs with three blocks, while Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.) put down eight kills with seven assists and 12 digs.

The Red Flash (4-10, 0-1) was paced by nine kills from Kelsey Roush and Breanna Opera, while Christa White and Sophie Murdock each added seven. Amelia Metzler dished out 22 dimes while Jenna Veres posted a match-leading 22 digs. Murdock was strong at the net for the hosts, registering six blocks (1 solo), while Sophia Esposito and Roush each racked up four stuffs of their own.

Saint Francis U. drew first blood, winning the opening frame, 25-22, on the back of four kills from White as well as four team blocks and two aces. But the Black and Gold charged back in the second, capitalizing on a negative hitting percentage from the home team (-.028) for a 25-20 set-two win.

A battle in the third produced seven ties and four lead changes, but Bryant would score five-straight points to break a 20-20 draw and take a 2-1 match lead. And the fourth was all Black and Gold, as the visitors rushed out to an 8-0 edge from which Saint Francis would never recover. Bryant would stretch that lead to 12 points, 17-5, and never look back, hitting at a .375 clip as a team in the stanza while forcing nine Red Flash errors for the 25-9 win to take the match victory.

As a team, the Bulldogs hit .203 on the contest and posted seven team blocks. Saint Francis U. would finish with a .076 mark on the attack but won the margin at the net with 10 team blocks.

Bryant returns to action Sunday, when it continues conference play with a 3 p.m. matchup against Robert Morris in Moon Township, Pa.