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UB Volleyball Roundup: Bulls fall to Ohio, Kent State in tough weekend

I told you yesterday in the Soccer Roundup that I'm a bit prone to hyperbole. Then, the hyperbole was of the positive sort following a strong two-match weekend from the Women's Soccer team. Today, unfortunately, it's the negative side of the coin.

UB Volleyball used strong all-around performances from the entire roster to jump to a 2-0 MAC record without dropping a set after the first weekend of competition. While Tahleia Bishop averaged six kills per set en route to a second consecutive MAC East Offensive Player of the Week Award, UB was succeeding from every spot on the floor.

This past weekend, things didn't go so well. When the Bulls took the floor in Athens to face off with MAC favorite Ohio, Bishop wasn't even in the building, and setter Marissa Prinzbach, who was a big part of UB's success in September, was on the sideline, presumably out with an injury.

Ohio proceeded to sweep the Bulls in three largely noncompetitive sets, 25-16, 25-17, 25-16, handing Buffalo their first loss of the MAC year. The Bulls were lead on offense by Amber Hatchett's nine kills, and fellow middle blocker Akeila Lain was also solid in attack, but the rest of the team managed next to nothing from the outside, hitting just .090 for the match. Meanwhile, the Ohio offense improved set-over-set on their way to a .312 hitting percentage on the night.

Saturday evening Kent State welcomed the Bulls into their gym and match Ohio's effort, sweeping the Bulls 25-12, 25-20, and 25-15. Once again Amber Hatchett led the Bulls with seven kills, though she got some help from the outside in freshmen Skyler Day, who hit a season- and career high with seven of her own. UB's defense was marginally better against the Flashes, but facing the top blocking team in the conference, the offense hit just .050 on the night as the Flashes tallied 22 blocks.

Here's the usual roundup of links, including both my article and Paige's FanPost on the weekend, as well as the UB-provided write ups.

UB Volleyball Suffers Winless Weekend against Ohio, Kent State - Bull Run

VB: What Do We Know About Tahleia Bishop's Absence? - Bull Run

Bulls Fall At Kent State, 3-0 - BuffaloBulls Fall At Kent State, 3-0 - Buffalo

Bulls Have Win Streak Snapped At Ohio - Buffalo

Really, though, the story of the weekend is not so much the two losses, as the Bulls played both matches without Prinzbach and Bishop, critical parts of their offense. Let me not make excuses: UB played below their season standard in other, theoretically independent areas, earning far fewer blocks on the weekend than normal and struggling in service reception. However, it's no rationalization to say that UB is a very different team without the two juniors.

Without Prinzbach, setting duties were passed on to Megan Lin, who played little under Todd Kress last year and has mostly played second fiddle to the UConn transfer since the end of the UB Invitational in August. An offense could be thrown off sync by a different setter, but the issues in corralling serves and providing controlled digs that Paige identified could make it hard for any setter to give her hitter a quality ball.

In his post linked above, Paige speculates about Bishop's absence, while I found an article from The Athens Post that reveals the outside hitter was out with the flu:

Wins give ‘Cats an edge in the MAC, still undefeated - Sports - The Post

With another pair of victories this weekend, Ohio now has a two-match lead in the Mid-American Conference East Division.

Ohio swept both their matches over Buffalo and Akron. The Bulls could have caused problems, but their leading scorer Tahleia Bishop, a junior outside hitter, was out with the flu.

I was particularly impressed with quotes from Ohio head coach Deane Webb, who recognized that things were out of sync for the Bulls. Emphasis is mine:

I told our team that we’ll take it and were happy to get a conference win. The big thing is we can’t attach any kind of emotion to it. This is who Buffalo is tonight and not who Buffalo is normally. We know when we go to play them at their place they’ll be a much different team.

This Week in Bull

UB (RPI 151, MR 131) hits the road once again to start the weekend, heading to Akron (RPI 249, MR 248) tomorrow for a 7:00 match. I'm not sure that there will be any video for that one, but there will be live stats available through a link on ubbulls.com. At any rate, I'll cover that match as best I can and likely have a writeup for it.

On Saturday the Bulls will return home to welcome the Ball State Cardinals (RPI 141, MR 109) into Alumni Arena at 7:00 PM. As with all home matches, there will be a video stream available from ubbulls.com. I likely won't have any coverage of this one.

Go Bulls!