BUFFALO, NY - Down 13-7 in the fifth set and with the UB Invitational Championshipson the line, the University at Buffalo volleyball team staged an epic comeback, running off eight straight points to defeat Oral Roberts and win their season-opening tournament. The Bulls got a total team effort, including a spark from a freshman, who despite not playing the first two matches, found her way onto the All-Tournament team.
The Bulls took the contest 23-25, 25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 15-13 as they outhit the Golden Eagles .199 to .164. Buffalo got off to a tremendous start in set one, scoring eight of the first nine points, but ORU came back late to take the opener 25-23. In the second set, Oral Roberts raced out to a 19-13 lead , but the Bulls were able to use some ORU miscues, scoring five points and pulling within one. The Golden Eagles went back up 21-20, but freshman Kasey Hollstegge served the Bulls to the final four points of the set.
Like the others, the third set was also extremely close as the two teams were tied at 19-19 before Buffalo ended the set on a 6-1 run, following a pair of hitting errors from Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles came back to take the fourth set as they ended it on a 7-2 run, setting up the fifth and pivotal set.
Early on it looked as if Oral Roberts would leave Alumni Arena undefeated, taking an early 7-3 lead. The Golden Eagles got their lead up to 13-7, but it was the last time they earned a point on the scoreboard. A service error by ORU began the run, which featured a pair of blocks, both that included freshman Akeila Lain. Following an Oral Roberts timeout, freshman Megan Lipski continued her strong serving, recording an ace followed by back-to-back kills from Lain and Liz Scott, tying the set up at 13-13 and forcing Oral Roberts to use its final time out. Out of the break, junior Dana Musil continued the run with a kill, giving the Bulls their first lead in the set and a ORU hitting error capped off the improbable comeback.
"I am extremely proud of this team for the way they fought to the very end," said head coach Todd Kress. "We got contributions from everybody on the team and we needed it to beat a very good Oral Roberts team. I thought the crowd and the energy in the arena was the best since I've been here and they made a big difference tonight."
Scott finished with a career-high 25 kills as she was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. It was the second time this weekend that Scott had 20 or more kills in a match. She finished with just two errors on 48 swings, leading all players with a .479 hitting percentage. Scott ended the night with 27.0 points, tying the school record for points in a five-set match. The point category was not introduced until the 2003 season.
Musil, who spent the first two matches as libero, moved back to a hitter in the second set tonight, finishing with 15 kills and a team-high 19 digs. Lipski and Lain each finished with seven kills. Musil was one of three players from UB on the All-Tournament Team following the match.
Musil was able to move to hitter because of the play of Hollstegge, who gave the Bulls a huge lift of the bench. The Cincinnati, OH native had 15 digs and six assists in her debut. The play of Hollstegge earned her All-Tournament Team honors as well.
Lain led the blocking attack for Buffalo with a match-high nine blocks, including three solos. Scott and Dani Reinert each finished with four blocks. Reinert added 49 assists and 15 digs on the evening as well.
The Bulls will be back in action next weekend as they hit the road for the first time, playing in the Shamrock Invitational at Notre Dame. UB begins play on Friday at 4:30pm against Eastern Kentucky.