Bulls Down Host Hoyas; Split Saturday Action

Andrea Mitrovic

WASHINGTON, DC – As they have become accustomed to all season, the University at Buffalo volleyball team found itself in another five-set match, and for the third time in four tries, the Bulls were victorious as they defeated Georgetown, 3-2, in the finale of the Georgetown Classic on Saturday night.  Earlier in the day, UB lost to undefeated James Madison as the Bulls move their record to 5-3 on the year.

It was an impressive victory over the Hoyas as UB took the contest, 25-22, 19-25, 25-23, 18-25, 15-12.  The match was tight throughout, but it was the Bulls who struck first with the win in the opening set. Neither team led by more than four in the first set, which the Bulls had early at 12-8.  They kept a small lead for most of the set until Georgetown tied it up at 22-22.  However, it would be the last points for the home team as UB got two kills from Polina Prokudina and an ace from Larra Bickelhaupt to close out the set.

Georgetown came back to win the second set, but the Bulls answered after the break fighting back after the Hoyas got out to the early lead in the third.  Georgetown held on to a 13-12 lead when Buffalo scored three straight points to take the 15-13 advantage.  The set was tied back up at 20-20, but UB scored three straight to take the 23-20 lead.  Georgetown was able to fight off one set point, but a kill from freshman Andrea Mitrovic clinched the set and gave UB a 2-1 lead

The Hoyas were able to get a win in the fourth set, sending the match to a pivotal fifth, and it was an entertaining one.  It was a series of runs as Georgetown scored three of the first four points before Buffalo scored four straight to take a 5-3 lead.  The Hoyas then scored four straight as they went back ahead 7-5.  UB continued to trail 12-11 when it decided to put an end to the match.  A kill from sophomore Kristina Nieves ignited a match-ending 4-0 run as a block from Nieves and Prokudina clinched the set and the match.

Prokudina led the Bulls with 19 kills, while Mitrovic finished with 12 kills and 16 digs as she completed the double-double.  Megan Wernette had eight kills and just one error.  Wernette and Mitrovic were both named to the All-Tournament team at the Georgetown Classic.

Nieves added seven kills and sophomore Rachel Sanks finished with six.  Scout McLerran dished out 48 assists, while chipping in two kills.

Bickelhaupt also finished with 16 digs and she led the Bulls with a career-best four service aces.  Sophomore Hannah Watson added 10 digs.

The Bulls opened Saturday action with a contest against James Madison, who remained undefeated as they went a perfect 3-0 during the weekend.  While Buffalo made JMU work for a first set victory, the Dukes were able to sweep UB, 27-25, 25-14, 25-17.

In the opening set, the Bulls got out to the early 11-8 advantage and continued to lead by three as a kill from Wernette put Buffalo ahead 20-17. A kill by Prokudina gave UB the 23-22 lead in the first set, but James Madison responded with two straight to take the 24-23 lead.  Buffalo fought off two set points before the Dukes took the set, 27-25.

The Bulls were not as successful in the final two sets as James Madison won those 25-14 and 25-17, respectively.

Mitrovic had 11 kills in the match, but eight of those came in the opening set.  Wernette finished with seven kills and Prokudina had six.  McLerran finished with 32 assists and an ace.

Defensively, Bickelhaupt had 13 digs, while Prokudina chipped in with seven.  Wernette led the Bulls with three blocks.

The Bulls will close out non-conference action next weekend as they head down to the Charleston Invitational, hosted by the College of Charleston.  UB will begin by facing Mercer on Friday, and will face Appalachian State and College of Charleston on Saturday.