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Sophomore right side Emma Gielas
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Gielas on Fire Leads Bulls to Victory over Akron

The UB Volleyball team finished its 2021 season with a four set victory over Akron. Buffalo finished 6–12 in the MAC and 13–17 overall. While the Bulls finished fourth in the MAC East, it was not good enough to earn a berth in the MAC Tournament. #One4Mon

Sophomore right side Emma Gielas had a spectacular night, tying her career high with 21 kills, and she had only one attack error, hitting 0.488. Her other 21 kill performance came as a freshman in a five set match. Gielas confounded the defense with a variety of shots — cross-court, down the line, tooling the block, and tipping to an empty spot in the Akron defense, which she did several times, and was wide open each time, the defense worrying too much about Gielas’s other shots. For good measure, Gielas recorded a block on the final play of the match and season, to give the Bulls a victory.

Gielas has come on strong since early in the MAC schedule, with eleven double-digit kill performances in her last 12 matches. The one match where she didn’t reach double digits, she had 9 kills. She has averaged over 3.4 kills per set during that stretch, making her the team leader in kills over that stretch; and she hit 0.278. She has moved up to number 10 in kills per set in the MAC for the entire season.

Gielas had lots of help against Akron, as junior middle blocker Courtney Okwara had 11 kills and just one attack error to hit 0.357. Freshman outside hitter Maria Futey had 10 kills as did sophomore outside hitter Milla Malik. Sophomore middle blocker Stacia Gollogly led the team with 4 blocks, and Okwara and freshman setter Mandy Leigh each had two blocks. Leigh had 50 assists. Junior libero Jenna Sonnenberg led the team with 21 digs while Malik had 15 digs and senior defensive specialist Kyndal Bacon had 13.

Notes:

  • After Gielas recorded the block to end the match, she and her teammates began celebrating but Akron coach Tom Hanna immediately challenged the call, claiming Gielas had touched the net. After an extremely long review, the call was upheld, and the Bulls won.
  • Buffalo had a 4–18 record in the 2020-21 (COVID) spring season. So this season, with a 6–12 record, is a step forward (although not a huge step forward).
  • Malik is currently ranked 9th in the MAC in kills per set and 6th in points per set. Okwara is 7th in the MAC in hitting percentage. Leigh is 6th in assists. Sophomore middle blocker Olivia DeBortoli is 6th in blocks per set.
  • Bacon and senior defensive specialist Paige Beck played their last match for UB (although because of the extra year of eligibility granted because of COVID, they could come back). The entire season, during the pregame announcements of the starting lineup, Beck and Bacon held the jersey of the team’s other senior, Monika Šimková, between them.
Seniors Paige Beck (13) and Kyndal Bacon (15) hold the jersey of Buffalo’s other senior Monika Šimková during pregame announcement of starting lineups
ubbulls.com
  • Junior middle blocker Abby Leigh (older sister of Mandy Leigh) was injured (concussion) during the second weekend of the season, and never returned to the court. She had been a starter up until that point.
  • Sophomore defensive specialist Emilie Davis also missed a huge part of the season due to injury. Davis appeared in only two matches, but did serve an ace on her very first play on the court this year.
  • Junior setter Emma Puzausky did not appear in a match. Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Valentic did not appear in a match either, and is no longer on the roster.

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