Volleyball dropped to 0-5 on the season with another sweep this afternoon, today at the hands of Murray State, the reigning Ohio Valley champions. On the surface, it's another lopsided loss - 25-22, 25-8, 25-21 - but I also think there were signs of growth in this one.
In 16 sets so far this season, Buffalo has only taken one, and beyond that has only scored more than 20 points in a set thrice. Two such sets came today. I wasn't able to pay too much attention to the video stream and football at the same time, but there's reason for encouragement in today's result:
More subs: Today's match saw Blair Lipsitz use subs more frequently than in any prior, though still only nine Bulls saw the floor. Akeila Lain returned to the starting lineup, but Madison Clark saw the floor after just 11 points. Clark and Tessa Ooyama both subbed in early in the second set, and saw significant time in the third. There are a whole number of ways this could have changed the game, but it seemed to me that Lipsitz is looking for stronger players on the backline.
Lipski's best showing: With 11 kills to just two errors, today's match was Megan Lipski's best of the season. We've said it for a bit, but the senior needs to be a consistent contributor for UB to find any success this year. She was strong today, but was the only one on the outside who was for UB.
Keeping it close: As I said above, UB has now only scored above 20 points in four sets of 16 this season, and did it twice today. Buffalo trailed throughout in the first, but used a late run to close from 24-17 to 24-22, and in the third set led at 17-15 and held even at 19-19 before fading at the very end. It feels like a moral victory, but that's two of the team's best showings on the year.
Buffalo's biggest struggle was again an inconsistent offense. UB hit .067 for the match, but committed only four attack errors and notched five blocks while hitting .219 in the third set. The Bulls have been all over the place in that stat this season, and today was no different. To improve, they'll need more contributions from around the lineup, as only Shado (8 kills) joined Lipski with multiple points in attack.
Next weekend, Buffalo travels to Mississippi for Ole Miss' Rebel Classic Tournament, where they'll face Ole Miss, Belmont, and Southern Mississippi.