BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo volleyball team will officially begin its 2018 season on Wednesday with the start of preseason camp. The Bulls are coming off a 15-win season last year and an 8-8 mark in conference play, their best record since joining the league.
It will be the fourth season under head coach Blair Brown Lipsitz and her assistants Scott Smith and Adam McLamb and UB is looking to take another step this year when practice opens tomorrow.
The team is led by a trio of seniors including middle blocker Megan Wernette. She has 538 career kills over her first three seasons with the Bulls and 213 total blocks. Fellow senior Lara Bickelhaupt made her UB debut last year as a junior, but immediately served as the team's starting libero where she led the Bulls with 413 digs. Ashburn, VA native Raven Jordan begins her fourth seasons after playing in a season-high 15 matches, with 40 kills, last year.
The Bulls have a five-member junior class that includes standout setter Scout McLerran, who is on pace to break UB's setting records. She has 2,132 career assists through two seasons, which is already in the top 10 in school history. Last year, she had a career-best 1,127 assists, while adding 65 kills and 218 digs.
Fellow junior Polina Prokudina burst on to the season for the Bulls last year after transferring from Syracuse. She led the team in 2017 with 387 kills, while adding 292 digs. Defensive specialist Hannah Watson is also back for her third year after she recorded 216 digs last year, while playing in all 106 sets.
The junior class is completed with middle blocker Kristina Nieves, who played in 25 matches in her first season with the Bulls, finishing with 83 kills and 56 total blocks, and outside hitter Rachel Sanks, who finished with 53 kills in 15 matches.
Sophomore Andrea Mitrovic returns after earning All-MAC Freshman honors a year ago, as she was second on the team with 378 kills and 29 service aces. Sophomore Lauren Slavoski played in five matches for UB last year.
The Bulls welcome a pair of new players for this year beginning with transfer setter Tia Gleason, who will be a sophomore for Buffalo after playing her freshman year at Memphis. She saw action in 29 sets with Tigers, finishing with 124 assists.
Freshman defensive specialist Paige Beck rounds out the squad. The Toledo, OH native had 415 digs and 63 aces during her senior year at Sylvania Northview, becoming only the second player in school history with over 1,000 career digs.
The team will hit the gym tomorrow for the first time and will have nine days until their first exhibition against Colgate. The team will then have another week before they officially open the regular season right here at Alumni Arena with the Blue and White Classic. UB will first face Niagara at 10am on Friday, August 24.