BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo volleyball team opened the 2017 season with an emphatic victory on Friday morning as the Bulls swept Hampton, 3-0, in the opening match of the Buffalo Invite. It was the first time since 2013 that the Bulls have won their season-opener.
UB took the contest, 25-13, 25-17, 25-8, outhitting Hampton, .318 to -.062. The Bulls started early as they hit .407 in the opening set of the season. Buffalo stormed out to an 11-4 advantage, increasing the lead to 21-11 on a kill from sophomore transfer Polina Prokudina. Two more late kills from Prokudina and a Hampton attack error gave UB the first set 25-13. The Syracuse University transfer had seven kills in the opening set.
Hampton got out to the early 5-2 lead in the second set and the Pirates continued to lead 7-5 when the Bulls went on an 8-1 run, capped off on an ace from Scout McLerran to give the Bulls the 13-8 lead. The Pirates got back to within one at 18-17, but the Bulls didn't allow Hampton another point, scoring the final seven of the set, including a pair of aces from Prokudina.
UB took the third set in dominating fashion, scoring the first six points and never looking back. UB rode early kills from freshman Andrea Mitrovic and sophomore Rachel Sanks as they built the 6-0 lead. A kill from junior Megan Wernette increased the Buffalo lead to 15-3 and a pair of service aces by sophomore Hannah Watson put the Bulls ahead 21-4. A kill by Mitrovic clinched the set and the match for the Bulls.
Mitrovic and Prokudina each led the way with 11 kills. In her first collegiate match, Mitrovic had just one error on 19 swings, hitting .526. Wernette and Sanks each finished with six kills, recording just one error apiece. Sophomore transfer Kristina Nieves had three kills and two blocks.
McLerran finished the match with 32 assists, two kills, two aces, and five digs. Defensively, junior transfer Larra Bickelhaupt had 17 digs to lead all players. Mitrovic completed the double-double with 10 digs.
The Bulls had 10 service aces led by three from Watson and two each from McLerran and Prokudina.
UB returns to action tonight when the Bulls host cross-town rival Canisius at 6:30 pm. The Griffs lost to Central Arkansas, 3-0, in their first match today.