AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – After an undefeated conference slate, the UB men won the MAC tournament in thrilling fashion on Saturday, coming back from down 3-1 against Western Michigan to take the title for the second time in three years.
“Now I am sporting a mohawk because I didnt expect them to do it and told them I would do it if they did,” men’s head coach Lee Nickell said with a laugh.
Then the Bulls drove three hours to Muncie, Indiana…where the UB women were on the cusp of winning some hardware of their very own.
“We knew that we would make an impact on the other team,” men’s junior Vidit Vaghela said.
“They supported us to actually win the title in the end,” senior women’s player Laura Holterbosch added.
It was their first MAC championship in nine years.
“Achieving that goal was indescribable,” said freshman Emel Abibula. “I have no words for the feeling we had.”
And the Bulls wouldn’t have made it this far without a little International flavor.
On the two teams combined, 12 different countries are represented by athletes who left everything they knew to come to the United States. Despite language barriers and cultural differences, the programs say they are one big Bulls family.
“They leave everything that is familiar. Parents, coaches, food, everything!” said women’s head coach Kristen Ortman Maines.
“By going internationally we get guys who are really dedicated to getting a good education and going anywhere they are appreciated,” Nickell continued.
“Everyone accepts each other, everyone respects each other’s culture,” said Vidit, who is from India. “That has created a close relationship between all of us. We all understand each other pretty well.”
Next up, the NCAA Tournament, the men are heading to Texas A&M and the Women to Ohio State. This time they won’t be able to drive through the night to see each other play, but like they do with their real families back home, the internet and Facetime will get them through.