Volleyball prepares for Blue and White Classic

The Bulls look to improve defense before home tournament


After a slow start to the season, the volleyball team (2-7) is looking to win the 2019 Blue and White Classic this weekend. 

The Bulls will compete against Cornell (4-2), St. Francis (0-9) and Canisius (2-7) on Friday and Saturday. The team is looking to improve its defense before the tournament, which will be the Bulls’ last battles before conference play.

“We’re really focusing on perfecting our defense and perfecting on first contact with the ball,” said senior middle Kristina Nieves, who has 66.5 points so far this season. “So with our serve receive and just basically executing, finishing out a play where we may have struggled in the past.”

Head coach Scott Smith said he’s determined to keep his team at the top defensively. The Bulls have lost 0-3 five times this season, against teams like Alabama (8-2), Wyoming (4-5) and Green Bay (7-2). Their two wins, against Marist (2-7) and College of Charleston (2-7), saw the Bulls walk away 3-0 and 3-2, respectively. 

Coach Smith instructing the volleyball team during a practice at Alumni Arena.

“We’re focused a lot on blocking and defense, as we always are,” Smith said. “We’re one of the strongest blocking teams in the Mid-American Conference. We want to keep that going.”

Smith said it’s important that while they encounter some struggles, they are able to keep their mental games sharp.

“We always talk about having confidence, and we do mentality sessions where we discuss different mental approaches toward the game, not getting overwhelmed when we make a single mistake and learning how to pull ourselves out of bad situations,” Smith said.

Not only is Smith optimistic about this upcoming week, the team is confident in their ability to add to their wins.

“I think this year, we have a lot of depth in every position,” Neives said. “We have amazing talent in the gym. So I think we match up really well.”

The Blue and White Classic begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday as Cornell takes on Canisius. The Bulls first take the floor against St. Francis at 12:30 p.m.

Sports desk can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com.