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Volleyball team to make the most of their final four games

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The Bulls’ (14-9, 7-5 MAC) weekend was a road trip of highs and lows. The team defeated the Kent State Golden Flashes (5-18, 3-9 MAC) 3-0 on Friday in a strong defensive performance. But lost 3-0 to the Ohio Bobcats (13-13, 7-5 MAC) on Saturday, ending the Bulls’ five-game win streak.

Despite the away loss, the Bulls move forward, ready for what's next.

“We always focus on what's in front of us, our end goal is the next game, not the next three games or the games before,” said junior middle blocker Megan Wernette.

Wernette had a solid performance in both games, earning a combined 25.5 points.

Despite going .500 over the weekend, the team is focused on what went well.

“Kent was a really strong game for us. It was one of our best games of the season and everything just came together,” Wernette said. “Whenever you come in on a win streak you have a chip on your shoulder and I just think it made us look past Ohio and stopped us from doing the hard work we needed.”

The Bulls had already beaten the Bobcats 3-1 last month and knew the team was dangerous. Head coach Blair Lipsitz said the team “lacked on defense” against Ohio which led to the loss. The team is still high on the “fluid play” they showed against the Golden Flashes, despite that.

Defense was a “main focus” this week in practice, with the final four games of the regular season left to play, according to Lipsitz.

The presence of True Blue at the Kent State game really made an impact. UB’s fans made the trip to give the Bulls their support, despite the game being held in Kent, Ohio.

“It was so incredible. I don’t think people realize that when they are willing to come out that far and support us it will make you play that much harder… they have been so good to us this season,” Wernette said.

True Blue won’t have to travel far this weekend as the Bulls return home on Saturday to play the Toledo Rockets (11-13, 6-6 MAC).

But first, the Bulls will have one last road game and a shot at revenge when they play the Akron Zips (6-18, 2-10 MAC) on Thursday.

“They run a fast offense so we have to make sure our defense can get to our release points quicker than usual,” said junior defensive setter Larra Bickelhaupt. “We have gotten into our own heads defensively and now we are going to refocus to get ready for Akron.”

The Bulls are the last team the Zips have defeated, having since gone on a nine-game losing streak. The Bulls feel confident going into Thursday’s matchup. Bickelhaupt had 15 digs and 5 assist in the last game against the Zips but UB still lost 3-1.

The Bulls do not have an easy weekend in front of them.

“[Toledo] is a really good ball control team, we are definitely going to have to be ready for them and make sure we take care of the little stuff on our part,” Lipsitz said.

The home game against Toledo will be a nice change of pace for the Bulls as Akron marks their fifth straight road game. Lipsitz, like her players, is taking it one game at a time; even with an upcoming home game in sight.

“I think it will be good for them to be back in front of our home crowd against Toledo, but first we have to go through Akron,” Lipsitz said.

The Bulls play Akron on the road Thursday at 7 p.m. and Toledo on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Thomas Zafonte is a senior sports editor and can be reached at thomas.zafonte@ubspectrum.com.


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