- BUFFALO, NY – Sophomore Polina Prokudina recorded a career-best 27 kills as the Bulls overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Canisius Golden Griffins in five sets, 3-2, Friday night at Alumni Arena in the nightcap of the Buffalo Invite. The victory improves the Bulls to 2-0 on the season for the first time since 2013. Prokudina recorded the most kills in a match for the Bulls since September 7, 2002.
The Bulls took the contest 23-25, 24-26, 25-9, 25-14, 15-9 as UB outhit Canisius, .285 to .111. The Griffs got out to an early 7-1 lead in the match, hanging on for the first set win as the Bulls cut it to 24-23 late, before Canisius scored the final point. In the second set, UB led 6-1, but Canisius came back for the 26-24 victory to take the 2-0 lead.
However, after the intermission, the Bulls were a completely different squad and they weren't going to send the crowd home disappointed. UB led wire-to-wire in the third set as they had a 13-7 advantage when they scored 12 of the final 14 points in the set for the easy 25-9 victory. UB hit .520 in the third set, recording just one error on 25 swings. Freshman Andrea Mitrovic led the charge in the set as she had seven kills on 10 swings.
The fourth set was another blowout victory for the Bulls as they hit .440 as a group, led by Mitrovic and Prokudina. UB led 11-6 in the set when it went on a quick 8-3 run to take a 19-9 lead. A double block from Prokudina and fellow sophomore transfer Kristina Nieves clinched the set and sent the match to a pivotal fifth set.
The Bulls left no doubt in the fifth who was going to come away with the victory as they opened it on a 6-1 run. A kill from Prokudina put Buffalo ahead 10-4 before Canisius made one final charge to pull within 13-9. Following a UB timeout, the Bulls put an end to the match as Prokudina had a kill to go up 14-9 and a Canisius attack error ended it.
"In the first two sets I thought we had a lot of errors on our side, which gave them some points," said head coach Blair Brown Lipsitz. "But give our players credit, because they recognized that and they realized that they could be victorious if they just eliminated those errors and we did in the second half tonight."
Prokudina had 27 kills and just four errors on 46 swings as she hit .500 for the match. Mitrovic finished with 22 kills on the evening as she hit .326. Sophomore Rachel Sanks added six kills. Sophomore setter Scout McLerran dished out 52 assists to lead the offense.
Defensively, the Bulls had three players with 12 digs, including McLerran, Mitrovic, and sophomore Hannah Watson. Prokudina added 10 digs as three players finished with double-doubles.
The Bulls had eight service aces led by three from Watson, who had six aces on the day between the two matches. The Bulls also recorded 5.0 blocks, led by three from Nieves.
UB will conclude action tomorrow at the Buffalo invite as the Bulls will face Central Arkansas at 12:30pm in what will be the championship match of the weekend as both teams will enter 2-0. The Sugar Bears defeated Hampton, 3-0, earlier this evening. Tomorrow's action will begin at 10am as Canisius faces Hampton. Admission is free to all matches.