Sophomore Riley Bunker is in the record books at Keene State College after a performance against Western Connecticut State University (WCSU).
Bunker finished the game with a record breaking 41 digs, preventing the ball from hitting the ground from the opposing team’s spike.
The record was previously held by Jamie Levine back in 2010. Bunker said, “I was surprised that I did it, but that was the goal.” Bunker also finished the game with five service aces and two assists as the Owls beat WCSU 3-0.
Service aces are awarded to the libero, or the player who is lined up in the back row with the responsibility of passing, serving and receiving situations, when their serve hits the opposing team’s court without being touched.
When asking Head Coach Bob Weiner about any difference in Bunker’s game that day, he said, “That’s how she always is; in a wide open game, you’ll have balls going back and forth, long rallies, and she’ll get everything.” She certainly got everything for the Owls as they stayed perfect in the Little East Conference (LEC) at 4-0.
The California native from Simi Valley earned a spot on the Owls squad last year as a libero. Bunker is on pace for potentially 2,000 digs in her career; she has already reached a total of 871 digs in just two years.
Bob Weiner said, “I want to see her in the record book everywhere.”
Keene State’s school record held for most digs in a career is 1,873 by Sarah Peterson, a former player from 2005-2008 .
This season, Bunker has made 423 digs so far, which passes her season high of 412 digs her first year.
Weiner said, “She’s potentially one of the two best liberos we’ve ever had in the program and she’s only a sophomore.”
Some of Bunker’s best games this season have been against Westfield State, Emmanuel College and WCSU.
Keene State has named her one of the athletes of the week after racking up 79 digs in three games and an average of 5.29 digs per set.
She is leading the LEC in digs, second in digs per set and is in the top five for service aces per set this season.
Senior and captain Brooke Hatanaka said that Bunker is a key element of the team.
“She works really hard and she is one of the best liberos I think we’ve had in awhile,” Hatanaka said.
She continued, ”She also plays an important role in communication on where we need to be defensively because she sees everything as a libero, while she plays in the deep areas of the court.”
Bunker and the Owls will try to stay on top of this season in a run for the playoffs with six games remaining.
They are second in the LEC with a 4-1 record behind UMass Boston. The Owls’ next game will be at home against Plymouth State University Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
Joe Cortese can be contacted at Jcortese@kscequinox.com