For three sets, it was the Buffalo's offense's finest performance of the year. And this strong offensive performance was driven by senior outside hitter Megan Lipski's best performance of her career, as she finished tying her career-high of 19 kills, she hit 0.348 for the match, and her 17 digs was the second best in her career. Yikes! Those are some impressive numbers. We saw Lipski hit from the back row with some success, (first time this year I felt that she was successful from back row), and once or twice she even attacked from the front row middle.
Although Buffalo didn't win the first set (they lost 25–23), Lipski had 10 kills in that set, and the team as a whole hit 0.429 in the first set, and caused Akron to change their defense somewhat to shut Lipski down. This opened up the court for the rest of Buffalo's attack in the second set, and Buffalo cruised to a 25–16 win, hitting 0.364; Lipski had four more kills in the second set.
Buffalo's attack continued to perform well in the third set, hitting 0.333, with four more kills from Lipski, but they lost 25–15. If Buffalo was hitting so well, what could the problem be? They weren't able to stop Akron's offense, which hit 0.586 in the third set. And in the fourth set, Buffalo's offense faltered to a 0.133 hitting percentage (Lipski only had one kill), Akron's offense continue to excel, and Akron took a 3–1 win.
Throughout the match, and throughout the year, Buffalo's back row defense has been a problem, and Akron was able to find open spots on the floor time after time. Don't let those huge dig numbers for Buffalo fool you; the number could have been higher had we been able to get to the ball, and sometimes it appeared that Buffalo just didn't react quickly, if at all. And many of those digs just weren't good passes (but they still count as a dig in the box score). The team also had their year-long problems with serve receive continue throughout this match, giving up 10 aces to Akron (should they be called "zips" when Akron hits them?) which is a rather high number.
A year ago, Buffalo averaged 1.2 serve reception errors per set. This year, it has climbed to 1.9. Last year, libero Niki Bozinoski averaged 0.25 reception errors per set, while this year her numbers are up very slightly to 0.33 reception errors per set. Note: this year Bozinoski played libero for five matches, and has played defensive specialist for the remaining matches. The current libero, sophomore Tessa Ooyama (who played defensive specialist in the five games where Bozinoski was libero), is averaging 0.64 serve reception errors per set (Ooyama did not return serves last year). Lipski is averaging 0.6 serve reception errors per set, after averaging 0.42 a year ago. Buffalo really needs to work on this aspect of their game.
Against Akron, the Buffalo blocking was weak, as they picked up only 6 blocks in 4 sets. Here's another area where Buffalo wasn't up to snuff in this match.
So the bottom line: strong offense (for three sets), and a weak defense.
- The crowd of 532 was Buffalo's largest in two years. The last time Buffalo had that many in attendance was in 2013 when the 12–0 Bulls faced #13 Ohio State, who was 11–0. Two undefeated teams and a "Pack The Gym" promotion drew in the people! The attendance that night was a school record 1104. Buffalo began the match with an ace by defensive specialist Siena Wilder, and never led again.
- The very large student section included many athletes from Buffalo's other teams. Among the athletes I recognized in attendance were Karin Moss (women's basketball), football players Matt Weiser, Tony Daniels and THE Joe Licata, plus one international sensation wearing a Canada Softball t-shirt (softball freshman Courtney Gilbert).