KENT, OH – The University at Buffalo volleyball team won its fifth straight match on Friday night, sweeping Kent State 3-0, to improve to 7-4 in conference play on the year. The seven wins are a new school record for Mid-American Conference wins in a season, while this is also the first time that UB has ever won five MAC matches in a row. The Bulls have won 15 of their last 16 sets during the five-match winning streak.
It was a tight match throughout as both teams made spectacular plays all evening. The Bulls came away with the win 25-23, 28-26, 27-25 as they outhit Kent State, .273 to .195. There were 28 ties and nine lead changes, but the Bulls never faltered when the Golden Flashes would make a run. UB had to fight back early as Kent State led for much of the opening set, including a late 23-20 advantage, but Buffalo scored the final five points, including a pair of kills from sophomore Polina Prokudina and capped off on a kill by setter Scout McLerran as they took the first, 25-23.
The Bulls got out to an early 6-1 lead in the second set and led for nearly the entire set before Kent State came back to tie it up late at 22-22. The Golden Flashes had a set point at 24-23, but the Bulls stayed alive as McLerran made an amazing save on a ball going out of bounds and turned it into a perfect set, which Megan Wernette finished to tie it up at 24-24. Kent State then fought of two Buffalo set points before senior Cassie Shado took over with a kill and a solo block to clinch the second set, 28-26.
The third set was maybe the closest of them all as there were 16 ties in that set alone. The Bulls had another amazing play in the set with the score tied at 13-13. The Golden Flashes sent the ball over and the touch by UB was off a little, sending the ball over the scorer's table. However, sophomore Hannah Watson was able to track it down and send the ball back into play, while she tumbled over the scorer's table. Watson's play was enough to keep the rally alive and the Bulls came out on top following a kill from Prokudina.
The Golden Flashes would go on to take a 21-19 lead, but the Bulls scored four straight points as a kill from McLerran put Buffalo ahead 23-21. Kent State was able to fight off two match points but kills from Shado and junior Raven Jordan clinched the set and the match.
McLerran recorded 48 assists in just three sets as she averaged 16.00 assists per set. She added five kills and just one error as well as nine digs. She did an excellent job dishing the ball out as four players reached double figures in kills.
Prokudina led the Bulls with 15 kills as she added 13 digs, one of four players in double figures in that category as well. Andrea Mitrovic added 12 kills and 11 digs, while Shado had 12 kills and three blocks.
Wernette, who missed the last four matches due to injury, had 11 kills in her return. Jordan added four kills and no errors on nine swings.
UB had 73 digs in the three-set match; again averaging astronomical numbers with just over 24 digs a set as a team. Junior Larra Bickelhaupt led the way 18 digs, while Watson added 15 digs from the defensive specialist position.
The 73 digs were a season-high for a three set match as were the 59 kills.
The Bulls will look for their sixth straight win on Saturday night when they head to Athens to face Ohio. The match will begin at 7pm and will air on ESPN3.