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Struggling Bulls Swept Twice by Ball State

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Facing the defending MAC Champion Ball State, the UB Volleyball team struggled mightily, and was swept in back-to-back matches. The Bulls did not score more than 18 points in any set. Buffalo is now 0–4 on the season, and has not yet won a set.

In the first match, on Thursday night at Alumni Arena, Buffalo made a huge number of errors, including 15 service errors and 15 attack errors, and hit 0.158. Ball State had only 17 total errors in the match in all categories. The Bulls still took an 11–10 lead in the first set only to see Ball State score five in a row, and the set was never close after that. And that was Buffalo’s best set of the match, they finished with 18 points. In the next two sets, they scored 14 and 16 points and those sets were never close either.

One of the few bright spots for UB was freshman right side Emma Gielas (pictured above), who was the team’s leading scorer entering the match. Gielas led the team in kills with 10 and points with 11, and did not commit an attack error, hitting 0.435.

For the second match against Ball State, on Friday afternoon, Buffalo coach Scott Smith made wholesale changes, benching a number of players, moving some players to other positions, and he changed the offense. These changes, to put it mildly, did not have the desired effect, and the Bulls did not pick up more than 15 points in any set, and hit 0.030 for the match. Ball State appeared to make their own changes for the match, with a different blocking scheme on Gielas. Although Gielas still led the team in kills (7) and points (7), she made 6 attack errors — her attacks were often blocked back or had no open court to hit into.

Buffalo next faces Kent State at Alumni Arena on February 4 at 6pm, and Kent State again the next day at 2pm. Kent is 1–0 on the season, pending the results of their match this afternoon against Central Michigan.

Notes:

  • Senior center Lexi Nordmann and freshman outside hitter Milla Malik were not in uniform.
  • Without Nordmann for the first match against Ball State, redshirt freshman middle blocker Olivia DeBortoli (who was injured all of last year) made her first career appearance and first career start. She picked up her first career kill and first two career blocks.
  • In the second match, for the record, here are the changes in the lineup. Freshman middle blocker Lauren Valentic made her first appearance and first start and picked up her first career kill and first career block. Freshman defensive specialist Emilie Davis made her first appearance and scored an ace on her first serve. Junior Monika Šimkova moved to outside hitter after playing right side — she has played outside hitter before, but is more naturally a right side. Smith decided to use a one-setter offense instead of the two-setter offense used previously this year, with junior Kyndal Bacon as the setter. Gielas played all six rotations, instead of just the front row.
  • With Gielas in the back row half the time, we saw several designed back row attacks from Gielas. I don’t think we have seen Buffalo player attack out of the right back position in many years.