BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo volleyball team fell in its home finale on Thursday night, dropping a tough 3-2 match to Akron.
The Zips took the contest 25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-12 despite Buffalo hitting .264, its second highest total of the season. Freshman Scout McLerran tied her career-high with 64 assists becoming the first UB setter with multiple 60-assist matches in the same season since Amy Brown in 2005, and the first to do so under the current 25-point scoring format.
The match was tight for the entire evening as the two teams were tied 33 times and the lead changed hands 10 times as well. UB fought back from a 17-14 hole in the first set by scoring three straight points to tie it up and the Bulls remained within one at 22-21 when Akron scored three of the final four points to take the early lead.
A block by redshirt senior Amber Hatchett and junior Cassie Shado in the second set pulled the Bulls ahead 17-13, but the Zips tied it back up at 18-18. With the set tied at 20-20, the Bulls scored four straight points, including the last two on kills from sophomore Valisha Watkins. The Zips pulled back within one at 24-23, but a kill by Watkins ended the set and tied the match up at 1-1.
UB got out to a 12-8 lead in the third set as a service ace from sophomore Madison Clark forced Akron into the early timeout. UB continued to lead 18-15 when a 4-1 Akron run tied the set up at 19-19. Buffalo led 20-19 before Akron scored five straight points to take a 24-20 lead, winning the set 25-21.
The Bulls kept fighting though in the fourth, overcoming an early 11-7 deficit. Buffalo scored four straight points to tie the set up and it remained close with the teams tied at 20-20. From there, UB scored four straight points to take a 24-20 lead, and after Akron fought off two set points, a Zips attack error gave Buffalo the set and sent things into a fifth set.
The Bulls had the upper hand early in the fifth set as a kill by Hatchett gave the Bulls the early 4-2 lead. However, Akron went on a 5-0 run to take a 7-4 lead and never gave up the lead again. UB got as close as two as a block from Watkins and Megan Wernette made it 11-9, but Akron went back ahead 14-10. The Bulls were able to fight off two match points, but ultimately fell, 15-12.
Watkins led the Bulls with 20 kills on the night, her second 20-kill performance of the year. Wernette added 16 kills and just two errors as she hit .538, while Hatchett added 12 kills and just two errors, hitting .455 on her Senior Night. Shado had 12 kills and three errors, hitting .375.
With her 64 assists on the night, McLerran now has 306 assists over her last six matches, averaging 51 assists a match in those six matches. She also added 11 digs and two blocks on the evening.
The Bulls recorded 7.0 total blocks led by five from Wernette. Watkins, McLerran and Shado each added two.
With their home schedule in the books, the Bulls will now end the regular season with three on the road, beginning Saturday night at Toledo.