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Bryant battles Brown Tuesday at the Chace

Meghan Murphy/UNH Athletics
Meghan Murphy/UNH Athletics

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University volleyball team meets in-state foe Brown for the fourth-consecutive season when the Bulldogs host the Bears Tuesday night at the Chace Athletic Center.

Bryant, winner of four of its last five matches, begins a stretch of five contests in the Ocean State over an eight-day span.

The Particulars
Match Time: Tuesday – 7 p.m.
Location: Chace Athletic Center (Smithfield, R.I.)
Tickets: Tuesday
Watch Live: NEC Front Row (Drew Celli)
Live Stats: Presto Sports
All-Time Series: Brown leads, 16-7 (5-3 D1) 

Bryant went 2-1 over the weekend at the tournament hosted by Army West Point. The Bulldogs collected a victory over Kent State Friday in Bryant's first five-set match of 2019 and swept Binghamton before falling to the host Black Knights Saturday.

Junior Alisi Motu'apuaka (Virginia Beach, Va.) and sophomore Maya Popernik (Chicago, Ill.) were named the event's all-tournament team.

Brown is off to a 6-1 start, its best since 2008. The Bears have faced three common opponents with the same results – wins over North Dakota and Providence and a loss to New Hampshire. Brown defeated Coppin State, Fairleigh Dickinson and Providence in a cross-town tournament over the weekend at Alumni Hall.

Makena Ehlert leads the Bears with 3.48 kills per set on a .267 hitting percentage and has added 2.86 digs per set. Ashley Oelrich leads Brown with 3.31 digs per set and is second on the team with 0.38 aces per set.

Bryant has recorded 33 service aces over its last four home matches, good for an average of 2.54 per set. Freshman Riley James (Pocasset, Mass.) recorded six in the sweep of Marist, while junior Erika Ward (Rochester, Mich.) tallied four on consecutive points in the sweep of North Dakota.

Bryant's sophomore class had key performances in Bryant's 2-1 weekend at the Black Knights Invitational. Popernik hit .371 with a career-high 15 kills and added 10 digs in the win over Kent State and followed that performance with 11 kills on a .348 hitting percentage in the sweep of Binghamton. 

Sophomore Caroline Kennedy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) added eight kills against just two errors in Bryant's sweep of Binghamton Saturday, while sophomore Haley O'Brien (Milton, Mass.) had four blocks, seven kills and no errors in the win over Kent State Friday. Sophomore Jenna Knight (Scottsdale, Ariz.) added three blocks in the victory over the Golden Flashes, which was Bryant's second over a MAC opponent in as many seasons.

Freshman Riley James (Pocasset, Mass.) had a big week for the Black & Gold, complete with the first two double-doubles of her career in the wins over Providence and Kent State. James collected 10 kills and 11 digs in the victory over Providence and racked up a career-high 12 kills along with 11 digs in the win against Kent State. 

Ward added 37 digs over the weekend at the Black Knights Invitational to rise to 1,140 for her collegiate career. The junior from Michigan passed Elena Lohr for sixth in Bryant's Division I era in career digs Saturday.

Bryant's freshman duo from Long Island has made an immediate impact, as Emma McGovern (Long Beach, N.Y.) ranks third on the Bulldogs in kills and digs per set through her first eight matches in Black & Gold, while Mia Cergol (East Northport, N.Y.) has been responsible for 38% of Bryant's assists on the year. 

McGovern was named Molten/NEC Rookie of the Week for her efforts in each of the first two weeks of 2019, becoming the third Bulldog in the last three seasons to earn a conference rookie of the week honor (Caroline Kennedy, Erika Ward.)

Bryant has seen 90.3% of its kills come from its sophomores and freshmen through the Bulldogs' first 11 matches of 2019. The Bryant sophomores, led by Kennedy (2.37 per set) have contributed 53.3%, while the freshmen, with James pacing the group (2.03 per set) have collected 37%. 

Bryant will play an in-season tournament in Kingston for the first time in the program's Division I era when the Bulldogs travel to South County this weekend. Bryant will face Boston College Friday before taking on Albany and Rhode Island Saturday. 

Tickets for home matches at the Chace Athletic Center are available by clicking HERE.

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