For the second straight weekend, UB Volleyball improved enough from their Friday opener to force a fifth set in a Saturday match but leave Pittsburgh with another 0-3 weekend after falling to St. Francis and Duquesne.
I was unable to watch the morning match against the Red Flash, a back and forth battle that ultimately saw the Bulls fall 18-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22, 10-15 despite what was certainly their strongest all-around performance of the season to date.
UB had topped .200 hitting in only five sets in their first four matches, but managed it in three sets against St. Francis, winning the first and the third but falling narrowly in the fourth, unable to clinch their first win despite a late 23-22 lead.
Freshmen Hannah Watson and Scout McLerran were standouts for the Bulls, with Watson totaling a season-high 37 digs and McLerran season highs in digs (22), aces (4), and assists (53). Her 53 assists were the most by a Bull since Marissa Prinzbach had 55 against Florida International almost exactly two years ago.
UB was led offensively by Valisha Watkins’ 23 kills, but also got double-digit kills from Amber Hatchett and Kristina Curcin, both of whom hit over .300 in the match. Cassie Shado did not play.
Buffalo played from behind for much of their three-set loss to Duquesne, at times rallying to within a point or two through the middle portion of the set, but falling 25-18. The second set was more lopsided, with Duquesne racing out to a 14-5 lead on the way to a 25-16 set loss that was only as close as it was thanks to late serving runs from Watkins and Wernette.
Duquesne came into the evening match having won nine consecutive sets, and added three more to their streak after they were done with the Bulls, the third set going to the Dukes 25-20, again only close thanks to a too-little-too-late run from the Bulls that momentarily pulled them within three.
Even accounting for fewer opportunities to accumulate stats in a three-set match compared to one that goes the distance, the weekend finale was a return to the disjointed play we saw against Robert Morris. Passes found their way too close to the net, some swing sent the ball far long, and opposing serves as well as UB passes fell innocuously among Bulls on the court.
Wernette led UB with 11 kills, while Watson only totaled 14 digs and McLerran 29 assists. UB hit .100 for the match.
The Bulls travel to Georgia next week for matches against Georgia Southern, South Carolina, and Wake Forest.