BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo volleyball team suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday afternoon as the Bulls fell 3-0 to Central Arkansas in the finale of the Buffalo Invite at Alumni Arena. UB finished the weekend 2-1, while UCA claimed the tournament title with a perfect 3-0 record.
The Sugar Bears took the match 25-23, 25-20, 25-23 as they outhit Buffalo .212 to .101. Central Arkansas scored the first six points of the match, forcing the Bulls to play catch up all set. A late kill from freshman Andrea Mitrovic tied the set up at 22-22, but UCA recorded three of the final four points to take it.
The Bulls scored the first four points of the second set and continued to lead 10-6 before UCA tied it up at 12-12. The Bulls then scored two straight points to take a 14-12 lead, but Central Arkansas scored eight straight points to take the 20-14 lead. UB pulled back within three twice, but ultimately fell 25-20 in the set.
The Sugar Bears then raced out to an 11-4 start in the third set, but the Bulls were able to respond as they went on an 11-3 run to take a 15-14 lead following back-to-back service aces from freshman Vanessa Marinelli, who came off the bench to set the end of the second and nearly all of the third.
UB increased its lead to 18-15, but four straight UCA points gave it the lead back. UB was able to fight off two match points, but lost the final set 25-23.
Sophomore Polina Prokudina had 12 kills, while Mitrovic added 11. Junior Megan Wernette finished with five kills and no errors on eight attacks as she hit .625. Sophomore Scout McLerran had 21 assists, while Marinelli had eight off the bench, as well as two aces and two blocks.
Junior Larra Bickelhaupt had a team-high 13 digs, while Prokudina finished with 11 to complete the double-double. UB finished with 8.0 blocks as a team led by four from Kristina Nieves, including one solo. Wernette added three blocks, including a solo.
Following the tournament Prokudina and Mitrovic were named to the All-Tournament Team. They were joined by Victoria Jenifer of Hampton, Claire Leonard of Canisius, Emily Doss from Central Arkansas, Samantha Anderson from Central Arkansas, and Megan Nash of Central Arkansas, who was named the Most Valuable Player.
In today's morning match, Canisius defeated Hampton 3-0 to pick up its first victory of the season.
Buffalo will now head on the road for the first time next weekend as they travel to Seton Hall for a pair of matches. The Bulls will face the host Pirates on Friday night at 7:00 pm, followed by Rutgers on Saturday at 11:00 am.