BUFFALO, NY – Behind 352 rowdy fans, the University at Buffalo volleyball team pulled out a five-set victory over in-state rival Syracuse, Friday night at Alumni Arena. The match was the first for the Bulls in the 2011 Blue and White Classic and it was arguably their best victory of the season.
UB took the contest 25-22, 15-25, 25-22, 26-28, 15-7 as it out hit the Orange, .218 to .204. The Bulls got out to a quick start on the evening, storming out to a 20-13 advantage following a service ace from sophomore Christine Fritsche. The Orange would make a comeback, pulling within 23-22, but back-to-back kills from Fritsche, gave UB the set. The Parma, OH native had six kills and four digs in the opening set to lead the way.
Syracuse came back in the second set as hitting errors haunted the Bulls and the Orange won easily, 25-15. UB responded after the break as it got out to a quick 6-3 lead in the third. The Orange would come back and take a 14-13 advantage, but a 6-2 Buffalo run, put it ahead 20-15. The Bulls went on to win the set 25-22, capping it off on a kill from sophomore Dana Musil.
The fourth set was perhaps the most competitive between the two teams as neither team led by more than three points at any point. Syracuse scored the first three points of the set, forcing the Bulls to use an early time out, but they quickly came back to tie things up at 6-6. The Bulls had their largest lead of the set at 23-20, but were unable to close it out, despite having two match points. Syracuse would go on to win the set, 28-26 and force a fifth and deciding set.
The Bulls controlled the fifth from the start using a 13-5 run to take the set after a 2-2 start. Freshman Liz Scott, who had missed the last three matches due to injury, returned tonight and recorded the final kill of the match.
"A great team win tonight," said head coach Todd Kress. "We had a great opportunity to get a solid victory and we took advantage of that. We played much better defense all around tonight and our left sides had some key swings. It was a step in the right direction, but we know we have to be back out there early tomorrow and face two solid teams in Cornell and Dayton. This will test our team both physically and mentally."
The Bulls had four different players record double figures in kills, led by 17 from Musil. Fritsche added 15 kills and 14 digs, while senior Abby Niekmap had 12 kills and just one error on 23 total attempts. Freshman Alessandra Jovy-Heuser added a career-best 11 kills, while Scott added seven kills and just two errors on 10 attempts. Sophomore Carissa McKenna added six kills, while Dani Reinert had three kills in addition to running the offense with 55 assists.
Defensively sophomore Kelly Svoboda had a season-high 28 digs joining Fritsche in double figures. Jovy-Heuser added three total blocks, while Musil, Fritsche, Reinert and McKenna each had two.
The Bulls will return to action at the Blue and White Classic tomorrow morning as it faces Cornell at 10:00 am and Dayton at 7:30 pm. The Big Red and Flyers played earlier on Friday with Dayton winning 3-0. Syracuse and Dayton will face off at 12:30 pm, while the Orange will meet Cornell on Saturday at 5:00 pm.