BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo volleyball team opens up the 2017 season on Friday as the Bulls host the Buffalo Invite at Alumni Arena. UB will begin on Friday morning at 10:00am when they host Hampton. Also at the tournament will be Canisius and Central Arkansas.
Head coach Blair Brown Lipsitz begins her third year on the sidelines for the Bulls, as she will put forth a roster that features a number of veterans, as well as an impressive group of newcomers. UB is led by senior Cassie Shado, who was recently named to the All-MAC East Division preseason team. She was a first-team All-MAC selection last year. Sophomore setter Scout McLerran returns for her sophomore season after being named to the All-Freshman team last year. Junior Megan Wernette also had a breakout year for the Bulls last season and is expected to continue her strong play in 2017. The Bulls also welcome back their leader in kills from last season in Valisha Watkins as well as their digging leader in sophomore Hannah Watson.
UB has brought a strong group of newcomers that will make an immediate impact led by outside hitters Polina Prokudina and Andrea Mitrovic. Prokudina is a transfer from Syracuse University. Sophomore transfer middle blocker Kristina Nieves will provide depth in the middle, while Marija Babic and Vanessa Marinellii will also compete for playing time.
The Bulls will open with Hampton on Friday at 10am. The Pirates are coming off a 6-17 season last year and they return their top three kills leaders, including Reeana Richardson and Micah Leavall, who each had 225 kills in 2016.
UB will then host cross-town rival Canisius on Friday evening at 6:30pm in a match that will air live on ESPN3. Canisius went 7-20 last year in the first season on the sidelines for Lenika Vazquez. The Griffs lost their top two leaders in kills from last year, but return their setter Cassidy Ceriani, who earned postseason honors in the MAAC last year in her first season. She also finished second on the team in digs.
The Bulls will wrap up the weekend on Saturday at 12:30pm when they face Central Arkansas in the finale of the six tournament matches. The Bears went 16-14 last year, including 9-7 in the Southland Conference. UCA returns its top four leaders in kills from last season, including Haley Tippett and Samantha Anderson, who each finished with 317 kills. The Bears also bring back their starting setter from last year and their team-leader in digging in Haley Tippet.
Admission is free to all matches during the 2017 Buffalo Invite. For those unable to attend, live stats and live video links for all matches can be found at ubbulls.com.