Saturday was a slower day for UB fans than last week, but still featured critical regular season matches for two fall sports teams and a big day against big opposition for wrestling.
Volleyball came into tonight's match on a three-match losing streak, clinging to MAC Tournament hopes. Unfortunately for them, they faced off against MAC East-leading Ohio while CMU, also 4-9, got to walk over Toledo. Bowling Green, the third team at 4-9 coming into tonight, is at this time in a tight battle with NIU.
Back in Alumni, UB struggled all night to get their offense going and to force Ohio into more errors. The first set was back and forth and Buffalo even took an 8-7 lead, but soon gave up an ace during a small Ohio run to 10-8. A few points later Cassie Shado lost a contact mid-point and the Bobcats had extended their lead to 15-9.
UB was able to close to 19-16 on a huge block from Shado and Lain - their two best blockers - before Ohio ran away with the set for a 25-19 win. UB managed to hold Ohio to a .167 hitting percentage but hit only .125 themselves. Amber Hatchett in the middle had four kills, while Tahleia Bishop struggled from the outside.
Even for a match that ended in a straight-set sweep, the second was particularly lopsided. Once again UB got within one at 9-8 before Ohio sprung an 8-3 run. The Bobcats enjoyed four of their seven aces in this set alone on their way to a 25-15 win. OU got a faster start in the third set and was able to easily keep the Bulls at bay but for a short four point run that got UB within 16-14 midway through. Buffalo was still within two as late as 20-18, but dropped the set 25-21 and the match 3-0.
On the night UB's strongest contributions by far came from the middle: both Megan Lipski and Tahleia Bishop were almost completely bottled up despite a balanced number of swings to each side. Akeila Lain and Amber Hatchett combined for half of Buffalo's 32 kills and both had excellent hitting percentages. Other than that, however, there were few highlights for UB. Megan Lin and Marissa Prinzbach continued to split setter duties, and Niki Bozinoski and Megan Lipski both hit double digits in kills.
UB falls to 4-10 in the MAC and somehow still has - dare I say - a realistic, if long, shot at the MAC tournament. Coming into today the Bulls were tied with Bowling Green and CMU at 4-9 in conference. CMU defeated Toledo to move to 5-9, but heads on the road for its final two matches against WMU and NIU, who sit 1-2 in the West.
Bowling Green is currently in a tight match, but down 2-1 to NIU. The three sets so far have been decided by just seven points. After today, BG travels to Ohio and to Kent State: 1-3 in the East.
UB would hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over CMU, and appears to hold the head-to-head-to-head tiebreaker should all three teams finish tied. The Bulls final two games against Akron and Toledo are by far the easiest of the six contests remaining for the three teams, and with two wins and even one loss from both CMU and BGSU the Bulls can make the tournament for just the third time in program history.
Swimming and Diving went international today, hosting men's and women's squads from McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. Both squads easily dispatched their opponents, winning all but a small handful of races. The men won 162-101, while the women topped that, winning 172-90.
The women have spent the last two meets making statements, with strong wins over Akron in Akron and Michigan State and Army in a tri-meet last weekend. Over those two meets they dropped just a single freestlye race to the Zips, and continued that dominance today.
At this point, it may be worth it to rename the 50 free the "Megan Burns," because the UB freshman hasn't yet lost the race, winning today in :24.07. Burns also won the 100 free, while Jessica Powers joined her as a double winner in the 1000 and 500 free. Spencer Rodriguez claimed the 200 free in the middle, and UB was well on their way to victory.
Melissa Trail was the other double winner for the Bulls, winning both the 100 and 200 backstroke as UB swept all the 200 races thanks to Victoria Butler, Cristina Czyrka, and Brittney Walters in the fly, breast, and medley, respectively. You get the picture by now, but for good measure Bulls foursomes were also victorious in the 200 free and 200 medley relays.
The men also enjoyed a strong day, getting their first win since the season-opening WNY Invite, getting things started with a win in the 200 medley relay thanks to a strong breaststroke leg from Scott Huang and a great freestyle anchor from Antonio Lanzi. Huang joined Matt Bitara as double winners in the men's competition. Bitara won the 200 back while also cleaning house in the 200 individual medley. Huang, of course, swept both breaststroke races, as he does.
UB now has a weekend off before heading to Cleveland State, their penultimate competition before the new year.
Women's Rowing was in action in Syracuse, facing off in a mini-meet of sprints against the Orange and Cornell Big Red. All four boats - Varsity, Second, and Third Varsity 8 and Varsity 4 - finished third in their races. Full results can be found here.
John McWhinnie has been freed from the terrors of engineering midterms and has you covered for today's wrestling action. The Bulls went to the Oklahoma Gold Invitational at Brockport and, competing against wrestlers from Oklahoma, Brockport, Kent State, Army, Lock Haven, and Bloomsburg, placed 10 wrestlers in final standings, highlighted by Max Soria's championship at 125 pounds.
Men's Soccer came into the night still in contention for a MAC tournament big, but fell to Akron 4-0 while Bowling Green caught and passed the Bulls with a road win over Northern Illinois, ending the Bulls' season.
UB finishes 5-10-2, a two-win improvement over last season, and 1-2-2 in the MAC. They notably enjoyed a 4-1-1 record at home, falling only to Bucknell. I will have a postseason wrap up coming later in this week.
Just one UB team is in action tomorrow, but it's the biggest game for UB Athletics since softball's run to the MAC finals in May. Women's Soccer will host #6 seed and defending champion WMU in the conference championship game, seeking to close out an undefeated MAC and home season.
Please come. The game will start at noon.