Quick Start Not Enough For Upset Of Northwestern

Polina Prokudina

FAYETTEVILLE, AR – The University at Buffalo volleyball team won the opening set on Friday evening, but the Bulls were unable to come away with the upset of Big Ten foe Northwestern as the Wildcats came away with a 3-1 win in the opening match of the Arkansas Classic.

Northwestern took the contest 22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-21 as the Wildcats outhit the Bulls, .248 to .210.  Buffalo made a huge run in the opening set, answering a run by the Northwestern.  With the set tied at 9-9, Northwestern scored nine straight points to take an 18-9 lead, but the Bulls responded by going on a 13-0 run, which included three service aces from sophomore Andrea Mitrovic, as UB went ahead 22-18. A Wildcat service error clinched the set for the Bulls at 25-22.

The Bulls trailed for much of the second set, but scored three straight points to turn a 21-18 deficit into a 21-21 tie, following a pair of UB blocks.  However, Northwestern scored the final four points following a UB timeout to tie the match up.

UB raced out to the quick 7-2 lead in the third as the Wildcats called timeout.  Buffalo continued to lead 13-9, but Northwestern took the lead following a quick 6-0 run.  The Wildcats went on to take a 24-20 advantage before Buffalo fought off three set points to pull within 24-23.  It would fall just short though as Northwestern went on to win it 25-23 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.

Northwestern went on another run in the fourth set as it was tied at 7-7 when the Wildcats scored six straight points. Northwestern led 20-12 when the Bulls responded with four straight as a Megan Wernette kill pulled UB within 20-16.  Buffalo managed to pull as close as 23-21, but Northwestern scored the final two points for the set and the match.

Junior Polina Prokudina finished with a match-high 19 kills, while Mitrovic added 13. Wernette had six kills and junior setter Scout McLerran added three kills to go along with her 36 assists.

The Bulls were dangerous from the service line again with nine aces, led by three each from Mitrovic and freshman Paige Beck.

Defensively, senior Larra Bickelhaupt led the Bulls with 18 digs and Mitrovic completed the double-double with 10 digs.

Buffalo finished with 12.0 total digs led by a career-high nine block assists from junior Kristina Nieves. Junior Rachel Sanks added six blocks.

The Bulls continue play tomorrow when they face the host Arkansas Razorbacks at 1:00 pm ET in a match that will air on SECN+.  UB will then face Butler at 6:00 pm ET.