BUFFALO, NY - In front of more than 1,000 people, the University at Buffalo volleyball team became Blue and White Classic champions as they swept Syracuse, 3-0 for the title. The victory was one of two 3-0 sweeps at the hands of the Bulls as they defeated Hartford earlier this afternoon. With the three victories this weekend, Buffalo evens its record at 6-6.
In the early match, Buffalo defeated Hartford, 25-19, 25-22, 25-5 as UB hit .333 for the contest opposed to just .040 for the Hawks. The Bulls totally turned the contest around as they trailed 21-15 late in the second set. UB got a steady serving performance from freshman Kasey Holstegge as it crept back into the match, taking a 22-21 lead. Following a Hartford kill, the Bulls rattled off three straight points, with the final two coming on UB blocks. In both cases freshman Amber Hatchett was in on the block.
That run paved the way for a dominating 25-5 in the third set, one of the largest margins of victory in team history. Buffalo scored the first eight points in the set and 12 of the first 13. The Bulls held other leads of 18-2 and 21-4 and scored the last four points of the set, with the final point coming on a Hatchett solo block.
The Bulls were able to get all 14 of their healthy players into the match, as Megan Lipski, Dana Musil and Liz Scott each had eight kills. Junior Carissa McKenna finished with seven kills and no errors on 14 swings. Junior Dani Reinert finished with 30 assists, two kills and four digs, while Kelly Svoboda finished with a match-high 15 digs.
UB had 15.0 total blocks in the win, including six off the bench from Hatchett. McKenna and Scott each finished with five.
"I thought the big run in the second set was crucial to our success against Hartford and it paved the way for that third set," said head coach Todd Kress. "It definitely gave us energy for not only that match, but through out the night."
The nightcap was a match for the ages with an announced crowd of 1,010 as the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee held its Athletes For Athletes event. The added support could be felt as Buffalo defeated the Orange, 30-28, 25-20, 25-22.
The opening set began with a big run from Syracuse, forcing the Bulls to make an early come back. The Orange got out to an 8-2 lead , but a 13-6 run from the Bulls gave them their first lead at 15-14. The set remained close with both teams unable to close it out. Syracuse had two opportunities to win the set, while the Bulls also had two before succeeding on the third try.
It was Buffalo that got out to the early lead in the second set going on an early 7-3 run. However, it remained tight late again with the two teams tied at 17-17. A quick 4-1 run by Buffalo gave it a 21-18 lead and UB scored the final three points of the set to go into the locker room up 2-0 in the match.
Like the first two, the third set was also highly contested as the teams traded the lead back and forth. With the set tied at 21-21, a Musil kill and Syracuse attack error gave the Bulls a two point cushion. Syracuse pulled back within 23-22, but another Musil kill gave the Bulls a 24-22 lead and double block from Akeila Lain and Scott clinched the match for UB.
"I can't express how grateful we are for the support we got tonight from the crowd," said Kress. "There were times in the match where they definitely pushed us through and made us better. This was an outstanding team win and I couldn't be more proud of how hard this group fought all weekend."
Musil was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after 19 kills and just three errors against Syracuse. The 19 kills tie the school record for kills in a three-set match. The junior added seven digs and three service aces in the victory. Scott added 10 kills and nine digs, while Lain added seven kills and four blocks.
Reinert had another solid performance as she was also named to the All-Tournament team with 43 assists, six digs and an ace. The final All-Tournament selection was Svoboda, who added 15 digs and two aces. Lipski added three aces and six kills, while Tahleia Bishop had three kills off the bench.
The Bulls will now begin conference play on Thursday evening as they head to Akron for a 7:00 pm match.