If you followed any of UB Volleyball's opening weekend, little of today's three-set loss against #7 Washington should be any surprise, except for maybe the depths of UB's struggles after the first 20 points or so. Buffalo once again went down in straight sets, losing 25-13, 25-15, and 25-9.
Once again, Coach Lipsitz used a short bench, though freshman Madison Clark earned a start and her first collegiate playing time. Only in subbing Akeila Lain into the match in the third set did Lipsitz deviate from her starting group.
Though UB scored more in the middle frame, I thought the first set was their strongest, and even then the Bulls only found success in one facet of the game, hitting .240 and hanging even with the Huskie through 9-8. But the Bulls quickly fell behind thanks to a number of errors.
In the final two sets, Buffalo's hitting lost its effectiveness, while Washington found more of a groove. Even though UB scored more points in the second set, I thought the match grew steadily less competitive as it went on. Buffalo could not stop Washington at all unless the Huskies made an error of their own: The hosts hit .500 on the match while UB finished with zero blocks and struggled throughout with digs and passing.
As the passing struggled, so did UB's attack. When Buffalo was able to successfully dig a Washington attack, the first pass was frequently too close to the net, preventing setter Marissa Prinzbach from setting up her hitters effectively. By the third set, the Bulls had run out of options, and as lopsided as 25-9 looks, it's even worse when you consider that Washington at one point led 7-6.
Valisha Watkins led UB with nine kills - though with six errors and on 30 swings - and added seven digs to complement Niki Bozinoski's team-leading 10. I was somewhat surprised to see Cassie Shado only get six swings in attack, but she made the most of them, tallying four kills in the match.
UB will stay in Seattle for a match tomorrow afternoon against Murray State. The Racers are the reigning Ohio Valley Champions and are 3-0 on the season in advance of tonight's match with Washington.