All grown up
Once-young volleyball team looks to upperclassmen to lead
Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 23:08
The volleyball team entered last season without a single senior on the roster. The year before that, the Bulls were the second youngest team in the nation.
The squad has taken time to develop and posted a 10-18 record last year. Buffalo’s voyage through the Mid-American Conference season was equally disheartening – finishing 4-12, third worst in the conference.
But junior outside hitter Liz Scott said the team was able to “live and learn” from last year’s trek. The Bulls enter their first game on Friday with six seniors and a newfound level of maturity.
“Last year, we had ups and downs and didn’t know exactly how to control them,” Scott said. “I think this year, we’re older, more mature and can control those ups and downs so we can ultimately win.”
Scott’s sophomore campaign led to a spot on the All-MAC second team. She led the Bulls in kills and points by a wide margin, despite playing through a lingering hip injury.
Scott had surgery on the hip during the offseason and is now back to 100 percent. Head coach Todd Kress said it’s the first time since she has been at UB that she’s been able to play a full preseason and fall schedule injury free.
“When it comes to character and integrity, that’s a tough student-athlete to beat,” Kress said of Scott. “As far as her maturation as a student-athlete, it’s nice that we’re probably going to see even more of a maturation process this year simply because she’s healthy.”
Despite Scott’s success on the court last year, the Bulls are going to need their six seniors to make a major impact.
That shouldn’t be a problem. Seniors Dana Musil and Carissa McKenna finished second and third on the team, respectively, behind Scott in points; senior Dani Reinert led the team in assists; and senior Kelly Svoboda finished first in digs.
“They’ve been through the rigors of preseason and MAC play for three seasons, this being their fourth,” Kress said. “We’ve taken our knocks. We’ve had the last few years where we’ve been very young … When you’re able to point out examples in your own gym of leadership of what that feels like and looks like, that’s a big asset for any program.”
Senior leadership isn’t something the Bulls have had in recent years, but it could play a key role in this season’s outlook.
It isn’t just the veterans on the squad that will help make contributions. As freshmen, Tahleia Bishop, Akeila Lain and Megan Lipski rounded out last season’s top six point-getters for the Bulls.
“We’ll be a program that will win as a team,” Kress said. “We don’t have that one player that’s going to completely lead the way that we’re going to give the ball to at any point in time. We’re definitely going to win because the team is winning. So I think you’re going to see a lot of contribution from a bunch of different areas.”
The Bulls host the UB Invitational Friday starting with home games against Niagara at noon and Temple at 7 p.m. They finish the weekend with a match against Niagara on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“We’re excited to start up,” Scott said. “We finished preseason on a high note, so were ready to play. Niagara is always a close neighbor that we want to prove that we’re the best.”