The UB Volleyball team opened their season against four time defending MAC regular season champion Miami (OH), and were swept 3-0 (25–18, 25–22, 25–10).
The Bulls’ passing was weak in the first set, the setting was generally weak, and the attacking was generally weak. The Bulls hit just 0.031 in the first set and never had the lead, while Miami hit 0.346. Buffalo played much better in the second set and wound up with their best hitting percentage of the match at 0.194, but Miami hit even better than in their first set. And then the wheels fell off in the third set as Buffalo struggled at all phases of the game and hit –0.250. For the match, Buffalo made 26 attack errors and hit just 0.020. 70% of the Bulls’ roster are either freshman or sophomores, and I think it showed.
So instead of the usual play-by-play description, I’ll point out some things that are the Bulls are doing differently this year, and we’ll have to see if they become more effective as time goes on.
The lineup has changed in unexpected ways. Junior Paige Beck who played every set at the libero position a year ago, played defensive specialist, while sophomore Jenna Sonnenberg switched from defensive specialist last year to libero this year. Beck picked up six digs while Sonnenberg only had 3.
Sophomore Abby Leigh started at outside hitter, along with freshman Stacia Gollogly. (Leigh played mostly middle blocker a year ago, although she did play a little at outside hitter). Leigh was second on the team with 6 kills tonight, but had 7 attack errors, while Gollogly did not score.
Buffalo used a two-setter offense (with an asterisk), as sophomore Emma Puzausky and junior transfer Kyndal Bacon shared the setting duties, but as you might guess from the hitting percentages and attack errors, they often struggled even when they got good passes. The asterisk is that in two rotations, Buffalo had no setter on the court! I have never seen this in an NCAA match, although if you watch Team USA or other international teams, you will see it occasionally. This meant that in one rotation, junior right side Monika Šimkova had to set, while in another rotation freshman right side Emma Gielas had to set. So, the assist totals: Puzausky 13, Bacon 7, Šimkova 1 and Gielas 0 (although I don’t think the ball ever came to Gielas for her to set).
Gielas led the team in kills with 8, and was one of two effective attackers for the Bulls, hitting 0.353. She also led the team in scoring with 10.5 points. Sophomore middle blocker Courtney Okwara was the Bulls other effective attacker, hitting 0.250 with 5 kills. Senior middle blocker Lexi Nordmann and Šimkova led the team with 3 blocks each, while Okwara had 2.
If there was a bright spot for the Bulls, it was that they picked up 5 aces (2 from Gielas and one each from Beck, Šimkova and Sonnenberg) while Miami only had 2 aces.
- Lots of things are different due to COVID. The players, coaches, referees, announcers and team attendants had to keep their masks on during the entire match. Teams did not change sides after each set. The volleyballs had to be disinfected after each point. Teams waved to each other after the match instead of in previous years shaking hands.
- It seems every year, early in the season, the live stats fail entirely. This happened during the first two sets.
- Miami coach Carolyn Condit, now in her 37th year at Miami, won her 750th career match, 24th all-time and 8th among active coaches.
- These two teams will face each other again tomorrow night at 7pm (ESPN+).