Bulls suffer first loss, but extend historic start to 12-1
Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013 22:09
Alumni Arena was packed on a Saturday night, and it wasn’t for the men’s basketball team.
The undefeated women’s volleyball team took on the 13th ranked team in the country – Ohio State – in a game that decided the champion of the Blue and White Classic. Buffalo suffered its first loss of the season in straight sets.
The Bulls (12-1) came into the weekend with their best start in school history and a program record 10 consecutive wins. They started the tournament with two victories, dropping just one set in their first two matches.
The Bulls faced a superior opponent Saturday, and after dropping just three sets in their previous 12 matches, they fell to No. 13 Ohio State (12-0) in straight sets in front of 1,100 fans at Alumni Arena.
Buffalo’s 2-1 record on the weekend was still enough to earn second place in the Invite.
On Friday, the Bulls defeated Valparaiso (11-3), 3-1, in the first match of the tournament, after dropping the first set 11-25. It was just the third time this season Buffalo had lost a set and the first time the squad had trailed in a match. Buffalo bounced back, though.
Senior libero Kelly Svoboda recorded a match-high 27 digs. Senior outside hitter Christine Fritsche had 15 kills, leading the team, and sophomores Akeila Lain and Megan Lipski added 10 kills each.
“I thought that was one of our better matches this year,” said head coach Todd Kress. “We didn’t play that well in that first set, but we really showed some resiliency and fight in coming back in the last three sets.”
The Bulls outplayed Maryland Eastern Shore (1-11) on Saturday, in their first of two games that day. They swept the Hawks in three sets after coming from behind in the first set. Buffalo trailed 23-19 in the first set but rallied for six straight points, winning 25-23.
The duo of senior middle blocker Carissa McKenna and sophomore outside hitter Tahleia Bishop was too much for the Hawks. The pair accounted for 24 kills – McKenna with 13 and Bishop with 11. Senior setter Dani Reinert fueled the team with a season-high 35 assists.
The final match of the Blue and White Classic was a showdown between two undefeated teams. The Bulls and Buckeyes came into the match as two of eight undefeated squads in the country.
From start to finish, the Bulls were no match for the nationally ranked Buckeyes, as they lost in three straight sets.
“We’ve been winning matches defensively,” Kress said. “We would go at teams and match their intensity, but tonight we didn’t and were out-dug 42 to 23.”
The Bulls couldn’t match up with Ohio State’s players, and Kress said it didn’t help that junior outside hitter Liz Scott was absent for the second straight week.
“We were limited with what we could do on the block on the right side,” Kress said. “We went up against one of the best outside hitters in the country.”
Kress was referring to Ohio State’s Kaitlyn Leary, who was named tournament MVP after a match-high 17 kills against the Bulls.
Buffalo’s Fritsche saw nothing new from Leary, as the two played high school volleyball together at Padua Franciscan High School in Ohio. Fritsche and McKenna were named to the all-tournament team.
The Bulls now enter Mid-American Conference play, but the competition won’t get any easier. Their first opponent will be another nationally ranked team. They’ll face No. 24 Ohio (10-2) in Alumni Arena on Friday at 7 p.m.