ITHACA, NY – The University at Buffalo volleyball team picked up their first loss of the season on Friday evening as the Bulls fell 3-2 to Cornell in the opening match of the Cornell Invitational. The Bulls are now 3-1 on the year.
The Big Red took the match, 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 15-13, as Cornell outhit Buffalo, .190 to .142. The Bulls dominated the first set as junior setter Scout McLerran had 11 assists in the opening set and three different players had four kills.
However, the Bulls were unable to ride the momentum into the following sets as Cornell won the second and third sets to take a lead in the match. Buffalo was able to stay alive and force a fifth set for the first time this year with a 25-20 win in the fourth. UB trailed 4-2 in the fourth set when the Bulls scored five straight points to take a 7-4 lead following a block from Megan Wernette and Rachel Sanks. A kill by Wernette extended the lead to 18-13 and the Bulls led for the remainder of the set closing it out on a block from Polina Prokudina and a kill by sophomore Andrea Mitrovic.
In the fifth set the Bulls got out to the early advantage, but they couldn't fight off a late Cornell charge. UB scored the first three points of the set and Buffalo built a 9-5 lead following a block from junior Kristina Nieves. However, a 5-1 run from Cornell tied the set up at 10-10. The two teams traded points back and forth and it remained tied at 13-13, but it was the home team that prevailed as the Big Red recorded the final two points to clinch the win.
Prokudina had 10 kills to lead the way for the Bulls, while Mitrovic and Wernette each finished with nine and Nieves added seven.
The Bulls had nine aces as a team led by three from senior Larra Bickelhaupt and two each from Mitrovic and Prokudina.
Defensively, Mitrovic had 20 digs, while Bickelhaupt added 14. Wernette paced the UB blocking attack with nine total blocks, while Nieves finished with five, including two solos.
The Bulls will continue action at the Cornell Invitational tomorrow when they play a pair of matches. UB will face St. John's at 1pm and Siena at 5pm. Both matches will be broadcasted on ESPN+.