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Bulldogs host weekend set against Saint Francis U., Robert Morris

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University volleyball team will look to make a push up the Northeast Conference standings over the weekend, hosting a pair of Pennsylvania rivals at the Chace Athletic Center Saturday and Sunday.

The Bulldogs (13-13, 4-3 NEC) will match up against Saint Francis U. (4-16, 0-7) Saturday at 5 p.m. before welcoming Robert Morris (10-13, 4-3) Sunday at 3 p.m. Bryant swept a weekend series against the pair earlier this season, recording back-to-back 3-1 victories on the road Sept. 24-25.

Sophomore Julia Flynn (Pembroke, Mass.) leads the Bulldog offense on the season (190 kills) and in conference play (72), but the Black and Gold have shared the load, boasting seven players with at least 115 kills.

Junior Ally Lunsford (Minneola, Fla.) leads the league in hitting percentage at .330 and has 154 kills while also posting the top blocking numbers on the team with 63. Rookie Ava Patterson (Danville, Calif.) is right behind with 50 and also chips in 123 kills.

Setters Vika Katzen (Kfar Saba, Israel) and Kirstyn Sperry (Phoenix, Ariz.) continue to share distribution duties with 627 and 414 assists, respectively. The latter leads the NEC with 31 aces and adds 225 digs and 162 kills, while the former boasts 23 aces, 251 digs and 116 kills. Junior Erica Vendituoli (Nashua, N.H.) continues to lead the way on defense with 315 digs.

The Bulldogs enter weekend action looking for their first back-to-back victories since last topping these opponents to close out September.

Still in search of their first conference and first road victory of the year, the Red Flash look for their first win since Sept. 17 when they visit Smithfield on Saturday. Breanna Opera leads the way on offense with 205 kills to average 2.81 per set, good for sixth in league. Kelsey Roush (177 kills), Emily Marcinowski (167) and Sophie Murdock (111) also anchor the Saint Francis attack.

Amelia Metzler ranks second in the league with 8.13 assists per set (553) while two players – Roush (22) and Elise Dumouchelle (15) – rank in the conference's individual top-10 for service aces. Sophia Esposito is strong on the block with 57 on the year and is one of just six players in the NEC to average more than one per frame. Jenna Veres averages 5.09 digs per stanza (second in NEC).

Last time out against the Bulldogs, Roush and Opera led the Red Flash with nine kills apiece, while Murdock posted six blocks and Veres picked up 22 digs.

Robert Morris has won three of the last four entering the weekend and will be looking to avenge the 3-1 loss to the Black and Gold earlier this season. The Colonials lead the league in opponent hitting percentage, limiting opposing teams to just a .164 clip, and digs, where they average 17.47 per set. RMU is second in the conference on the block, averaging 2.12 per stanza, and are led in the category by Leah Dunivan (60) and Brianna Schmid (78). The pair also rank ninth and tenth, respectively, in hitting percentage, while both have recorded at least 125 kills.

Arden Fisher leads the Colonials and the league in digs (430, 5.18) while also ranking second in total kills (261, 3.14/set), while Brianna Frakes is the team's top setter at 7.58 assists per stanza. April Krivoniak (136 kills, 267 digs, 34 blocks, 23 aces) and Taylor Lord (169 kills, 269 digs, 30 blocks, 28 aces) are also among the league's top all-around players.

Last time out against the Bulldogs, Fisher led the way with the team's only double-double (11 kills, 13 digs) while Krivoniak chipped in nine kills and Lord added eight more. Dunivan contributed eight blocks (4 solo), while Schmid posted six (1 solo) and Lord added five (1 solo).