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Buffalo Bulls Volleyball Drops Season Opener in just 3 sets against Lehigh

Reed Sunahara's long-awaited debut leave UB fans wanting as the Bulls drop their opening match in consecutive sets, 19-25, 22-25, 19-25.

Matt Gritzmacher

Well, UB Athletics is not going undefeated this year.

I, personally, am crushed.

The Women's Volleyball team today, kicking off the season in their own invitational, dropped the season opener 3-0 to Lehigh. On one hand, Lehigh was not *that* much better than the Bulls, but just managed to string together a few more points at critical points, but on the other, UB was unable to take advantage of many Lehigh errors, and committed a number of unforced mistakes on their own end.

Earlier games in today's opening day of the tournament saw Ole Miss take down both Canisius and Siena three sets to none, while Siena similarly swept Lehigh..

It certainly appears through one day that Ole Miss is the class of this tournament, as the Bulls struggled against Lehigh. The teams were generally evenly matched, but UB played from behind for the entirety of the first two sets, and could not hold an early advantage or capitalize on Lehigh errors in the third set.

We've been more than excited about the Reed Sunahara era here in Amherst, as the coach brings the highest pedigree of anyone in UB athletics, but tonight's match was a reminder that UB has lost a ton of talent from last year, especially in Kelly Svoboda and Carissa McKenna.

UB still has a number of returning upperclassmen, especially in the frontcourt, where Tahleia Bishop, Amber Hatchett, Akeila Lain, and Megan Lipski were able to consistently test the Lehigh blockers. Unfortunately, the Bulls struggled to transition effectively from defense to offense, as setter Megan Lin was just a bit off all night on her passes, which kept UB's hitters from really maximizing their hitting power and accuracy. Furthermore, the Lehigh attack frequently targeted the 5'8" Lin, who didn't have enough height to consistently block the Mountain Hawks' offerings.

Fellow setter and UConn transfer Marissa Prinzbach, who stands three inches taller at 5'11' did not even dress for the match. Senior Liz Scott, who missed more than half of last year to injury, also did not dress, but Sable Staller did return from a few injury-fraught seasons to help the Bulls fight back to a tie multiple times in the second and third sets. Staller also enjoyed the highest hitting percentage on the team on her way to 6 kills.

On the night, the Bulls were paced offensively by Tahleia Bishop and Akeila Lain, who each had 7 kills, and Niki Bozinoski on defense, who chipped in 22 digs. Unfortunately, despite enjoying a tie with Lehigh late in each set thanks to a number of Mountain Hawk service miscues, UB could not overcome their own errors. At many times, they held steady, but never appeared markedly better than their opponents.

Fortunately, we learned last year that the first match (or 12!) of volleyball does not a season make, and there's a long way to go. UB will look to get their first win of the season tomorrow at 12 noon, when they face off against Siena, and will play again at 7 PM against local rival Canisius. I'll be in attendance and Bull Run will have live coverage once again of both matches. Go Bulls!

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In other UB Olympic action tonight, Women's Soccer continued their shutout streak to start the season but were unable to score themselves in Pittsburgh, as they played Duquesne's other football team to a 0-0 tie. Laura Dougall made five saves for yet another shutout, while fellow freshman Julia Benati peppered the Duquesne defense with a half-dozen shots.

UB will next play Sunday at 12 PM when they host Drexel at UB Stadium.

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Finally, in Men's Soccer, Stu Riddle's club dropped their first official game to the San Diego Toreros, 4-1, in a match that showed two things: 1) Southern California is pretty good at soccer, and 2) Might not be the best idea to match up your team named the Bulls against a team named the Bullfighters. Brandon Culver scored the lone goal for UB, while Cameron Hogg and the defense played admirably considering USD had 13 corner kicks and unleashed 23 shots in total.

The Men will stay in California and play San Diego State on Sunday.