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Buffalo Sports Saturday: Men's, Women's Tennis Rolling; Men's Soccer, Cross Country, Volleyball also in action

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UBBulls.com

Tennis is primarily a spring sport that gets going in late winter,  but both of UB's teams compete in a handful of invitationals and tournaments in the fall, with the September and October schedules working up to the ITA Regionals for individual glory this weekend.

Both the Men's and Women's Tennis teams have three athletes competing in ITAs: all six are in their singles brackets, and each team brought one doubles pairing to the show. In total, of the eight different berths in this tournament, three are still alive.

On the men's side, junior Pablo Alvarez has done something no Bull has ever done before: advance to the final 16 of the regional tournament. Alvarez won his first match (6-4, 6-4) yesterday over Brandon Yeoh of Brown before winning two three-set matches today, notably clinching his berth in the 16 with a 7-5 third set won on tiebreaker.

Alvarez is lone Bull still alive in singles play, but senior Damien David also had a chance to make the final 16. The draw gave him a bye into today's action, where he won his first match (2-6, 6-3, 6-3) before also heading into the third set in his second go-round. Shortly before Alvarez advanced, David fell in a third-set tiebreaker of his own with the match point coming on a second serve overrule.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Damien loses 7-5 in third set breaker on a second serve over rule...no comment from me. Pablo is our last hope. Up 4-3</p>&mdash; Nails Nickell (@UBCOACHNAILS) <a href="https://twitter.com/UBCOACHNAILS/status/523588937072508929">October 18, 2014</a></blockquote>

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Sebastien Ionescu is also competing this weekend but after falling in his first match yesterday spent today in the consolation bracket. The doubles pairing of Alvarez and David did not compete today, but won two matches on Friday and is through to the final 16 of that bracket and will play tomorrow.

Women's Tennis also had a hot day on the courts. Though the doubles pairing of Tanja Stojanovska and Dayana Agasieva fell in their first match yesterday, both Stojanovska and Margarita Kotok won their respective matches this morning to move on in the draw. Stojanovska's victory came in three sets over an opponent from Rutgers, while Kotok won easily (6-3, 6-0).

Both Bulls would compete again in the evening. Stojanovska enjoyed a quicker victory (7-6, 6-2) this round over Monica Lin of Harvard, but her teammate fell (6-3, 6-4). Stojanovska is through to the round of 32.

*****

Both Cross Country teams were in action at the same place this morning: the Princeton Invite in New Jersey. Running without usual #1 Cameron Bruce, who sat out this meet with a sore foot, the men finished tied with Monmouth for 15th place out of 37 teams,  Led by Brian Crimmins, who finished in 25:06, the Bulls would have likely been in the running for the top ten (and ahead of Binghamton0 had Bruce been running and put down his usual sub-25 time. Even as it stands, the Bulls still topped Stony Brook.

Coach Todd Witzleben notes that without Bruce and after an early cramp slowed Barrett Kemp, freshman Justin Van Epps stepped up big for the Bulls in the race. Witzleben believes that despite the factors working against the Bulls' scores today that UB will maintain their spot in the regional rankings; they were #14 last week and while Binghamton was unranked, Stony Brook was in front of Buffalo.

I have less info for the women, unfortunately (sorry!), but UB was led by Corinne Birchard once again on their way to a 13th-place showing of  35 teams. Bouchard ran to a 22:34 finish on the six-kilometer course, and the full five-women scoring complement finished within 51 seconds of the sophomore.

*****

The Swimming half of Swimming and Diving competed today in a scrimmage against Cornell, and let me tell you; I am sick of facing off against Cornell. I don't think anyone from UB has topped the Big Red this year. While this was just a scrimmage, UB won only nine of 28 events in the pool. Men's freshman Oliver Patrouch was the lone double winner on the day for Buffalo, swimming the third leg of the victorious 200 medley relay and winning the 100-meter butterfly on his own. Classmate Megan Burns won the 50-meter freestyle for the second consecutive meet.

*****

Coming off a strong pair of matches in the past week, Men's Soccer traveled to Bowling Green for a faceoff with the Falcons and Pat Flynn, the MAC's leading scorer. In their past two matches, UB used two stunningly late goals to draw with Western Michigan, and then squandered 90 minutes of strong and physical play and seven progressively more impressive saves from Waleed Cassis when they ceded a 90th-minute score of their own against Lafayette.

Back to MAC play tonight, the Bulls continued their now-three-game streak of the best soccer of the season. Though under siege early on and conceding five Bowling Green shots in the first twelve minutes, Buffalo only fell behind in the 19th on an own goal that was headed past Cassis by one of his defenders.

Happily, UB was able to tie it up on a goal from Sean Young - his first of the year - just a few minutes later, and went on to play Bowling Green about even for the rest of the first half. At the break both teams had just two shots on goal and a save a piece.

The second half was never UB's outright, but they slowly took the advantage in most statistical categories and possessed the ball for greater and greater stretches. Bowling Green actually went upwards of thirty minutes without a shot of any sort in the second half.

UB's pressure would nearly pay off with only a few minutes to play, but Steven Stryker missed an open net just wide to the left. Buffalo continued to control play in both overtime periods, outshooting the Falcons 6-3, but couldn't score. On the night Buffalo outshot BGSU 20-16 and forced keeper Ryan Heuton to make five saves while allowing only three shots to make their way through to Waleed Cassis.

The Bulls remain winless in the MAC, but are also undefeated with two draws in two games. Coach Stu Riddle is happy with the result and looking forward to UB's Tuesday match against Big Four Rival St. Bonaventure.

"I was pleased with the overall performance against a very good side," said Riddle to ubbulls.com. "Outside of a 15 minute spell in the first half, I felt like we had a good deal of quality possession and lots of top scoring opportunities. I just reminded the lads that we are still unbeaten in the MAC and everyone is excited to get back to the training ground on Monday."

*****

UB's final team in action tonight was Volleyball, who didn't even start until 8:30 Eastern thanks to the wonders of Central time. In DeKalb, IL for a matchup with undefeated-in-the-MAC Northern Illinois, UB looked to get back on the right track after a four-set loss in Kalamazoo to Western Michigan yesterday.

Buffalo emerged victorious from the first set, 25-23, despite enjoying at one point a 17-9 lead. Playing without Tahleia Bishop for the third consecutive set, UB was led in defense by freshman Cassie Shado's three blocks and took advantage of ten Huskies attack errors.

The second set was a show of offensive efficiency and long rallies, as at 19-22 the two teams had already combined for over 80 swings in attack, and when things wrapped up with a 25-21 NIU victory the set had seen only seven total attack errors. NIU hit .275 to UB's .262 in the frame. The third set was more of the same, with NIU only marginally outhitting UB in the mid-.200s and only ten combined errors in attack, but UB couldn't pull out a win despite an essentially 'coin flip' situation at 22-22. Tahleia Bisop did finally enter the match in the third, but UB was unable to take a 2-1 match lead and instead were playing to stave off a loss in the fourth set.

Due to a malfunction with the live stats platform, I'm unsure how Buffalo got to 17-9 in the first set, but through the first three frames UB did not erase more than a one- or two-point deficit. Through the match, once the Bulls fell behind, they were behind, and in the fourth set a 14-17 deficit ultimately became a 19-25 loss. It was the most lopsided frame of the night, as NIU hit .364.

For the match, Megan Lipski led Buffalo in kills for the third match of the last four with 14, while Akeila Lain also had 12, though she committed several attacking errors and did not earn a block in either of the final two sets. Two freshman played particularly well for the Bulls: Cassie Shado's seven kills came without an error, and Skyler Day led the team in digs. Tahleia Bishop perhaps could have been useful to the team in the first and second sets as she had nine kills to just one error for a .571 hitting percentage in just the final two sets.

***

Congrats to all Bulls who competed today! Tomorrow representatives of both tennis teams will continue in their regional tournaments, and Women's Soccer has their final road game of the regular season at 1:00 in Toledo. Go Bulls!