Bulls Win Marathon Four-Setter Over Eastern Michigan

Kristina Nieves

BUFFALO, NY – In a match that last nearly two and a half hours and never saw a fifth set, the University at Buffalo volleyball team came away with a hard fought 3-1 victory over Eastern Michigan on Friday night at Alumni Arena.  The win was UB's third straight as the Bulls improve to 13-8 on the year and 5-4 in league play.

UB took the match 28-30, 25-23, 31-29, 25-22 as the Bulls narrowly outhit the Eagles, .232 to .223.  For much of the night, neither team was able to create distance in any of the four sets.  In the opening set, the Eagles were able to pull ahead 23-21 late, but the Bulls scored two straight tie it up.  The Bulls then fought off two set points before Eastern Michigan fought off one.  UB fought off two more, tying the set at 28-28, but the Eagles scored the final two to take the opening set.

The Bulls got out to a 10-7 lead in the second set following a kill from senior Megan Wernette, but Eastern Michigan was able to fight back, grabbing the 22-20 advantage.  UB responded with three straight points to take the 23-22 lead.  With the set tied at 23-23, the Eagles recorded a hitting error and the Bulls were able to clinch the set on a block from juniors Kristina Nieves and Polina Prokudina.

The third set was another one of those back and forth affairs. Another block from Nieves and Prokudina gave the Bulls a 15-13 advantage midway through the set. EMU came back to take a 22-20 lead in the set, but a quick 4-1 run put UB ahead 24-23 following an ace from junior Hannah Watson.  Eastern Michigan was able to fight off match point six different times in the third set as the teams found themselves tied at 29-29.  Buffalo took advantage of an Eastern Michigan service error and then UB was able to take the set 31-29 following a kill from Prokudina.

Eastern Michigan led 11-9 in the fourth set when the Bulls went on an 8-0 run to take a 17-11 lead.  Eastern Michigan was able to answer and scored six straight to tie the set up at 17-18.  However, the Bulls weren't rattled as they answered with three quick points as an EMU attack error gave Buffalo the 20-17 lead.   A kill from Wernette extended the lead to 24-20 before the Eagles fought off two match points.  Following a UB timeout, Wernette ended the match with another kill, sending the Bulls to victory.

Four Bulls scored in double figures in kills led by 17 kills from sophomore Andrea Mitrovic, who took 68 swings in the four sets.  Wernette and Prokudina each had 14 kills, while Nieves had 11 kills.  All three players hit over .300 as the trio combined for just nine errors on 90 combined swings. Junior Rachel Sanks added eight kills and just two errors.

Junior Scout McLerran dished out 51 assists, to go along with a pair of kills and 12 digs.  She was one of four players in double figures in digs.

Senior Larra Bickelhaupt led the Bulls with 25 digs, while freshman Paige Beck added 13.  In addition to McLerran's 12, Mitrovic also finished with 12 digs.

Buffalo also finished the night with 15.0 total blocks, led by 10 blocks from Nieves, including a pair of solos. Wernette had five blocks, including three solo blocks, and Prokudina added four.

The Bulls remain home tomorrow evening as they look for their fourth straight win against Central Michigan.  Buffalo will be hosting Sprit Day as part of the evening festivities, which get underway at 6:00 pm.