Snapping a 7 match losing streak, the UB Volleyball team defeated Kent State in 5 sets, giving them a 3–7 conference record, and keeping a possible berth in the MAC Tournament a realistic possibility. #One4Mon
Buffalo took the first two sets by identical scores of 25–22. The Bulls had two match points in the third set at 24–23 and 25–24, but could not convert, and then Kent wound up winning the set 27–25. The Bulls fell apart in the fourth set, hitting negative thanks to seven Kent State blocks, all seven of those blocks coming in a span of 14 consecutive rallies.
In the fifth set, the teams were tied at 11 apiece. After an error by Kent State, junior middle blocker Courtney Okwara took over, with a block assist on one play, and then two consecutive kills to end the set and give the Bulls a victory. Buffalo coach Scott Smith, as he has done in all recent fifth sets, started the Bulls serving in rotation 4 (instead of rotation 1 serving first in the other sets). This meant Okwara got more time on court during the shortened fifth set. Okwara also picked up a block assist and a kill early in the fifth set.
Smith made several line-up changes that helped the Bulls snap out of their losing streak. The biggest change was putting sophomore Stacia Gollogly into the lineup at middle blocker. Gollogly has not played this position before during her two years at Buffalo, previously playing outside hitter or right side for the Bulls — but apparently has played the position in high school. Gollogly responded with 12 kills, her career high.
Smith also changed the serving so that sophomore right side Emma Gielas and Okwara both served, something they had not done at all this year. Okwara picked up her first ace of the season on a serve that clearly landed in, but the line judge called it out and was overruled by the first official. In addition, junior libero Jenna Sonnenberg did not serve, very rare to see a libero not serve.
Sophomore outside hitter Milla Malik, Buffalo’s leading scorer for the entire season, had 12 kills, but six in the first set and then just six in the last four sets. She had 11 errors and hit 0.019. Far too often, Malik and setter Mandy Leigh were not connecting, with sets often behind Malik so that Malik had to stop her approach. But Kent State’s leading scorer for the entire season Savannah Matthews returned the favor with 15 kills and 14 errors and hit 0.021.
Okwara and Gielas each had 14 kills, and Malik, freshman outside hitter Maria Futey and Gollogly had 12 kills each. Okwara and Gielas each had 8 blocks, while Malik had 3. Leigh led the team in digs with 16, while Sonnenberg had 13 and Futey had 10. Leigh had 54 assists.
Buffalo faces Kent State again on Saturday, October 23 at 4pm (ESPN3).
- That’s using your head: at 19–18 in the second set, an attack by Gollogly was blocked back right into Gollogly’s head and the ball caromed back over the net, and landed on the Kent State side, point Buffalo. Somehow, the box score credits Leigh with an assist on the play, I don’t think so.
- Play of the Match™: early in the second set, Malik came up with back-to-back solo blocks on slide attacks by Kent State middle blocker Danie Tyson. Kent stopped using that play for most of the rest of the match.
- ESPN3 provided the worst camera-work I have ever seen in a volleyball match. Many times the ball simply was not on-camera, making it difficult to know what was happening. Other times, the camera movement was behind the path of the ball, and so when a block happened, you could barely see the fingertips of the blocker. Many times, coming out of a television break, an entire point was missed.
- It was “Play for the Cure” night for Kent State, with pink jerseys and pink lines on the court. The ESPN3 broadcast also featured a segment where the Kent State players held up #One4Mon hashtags in honor of Buffalo’s Monika Šimková, who had both legs amputated above the knees recently.