The UB Volleyball team lost their two matches against Central Michigan at Alumni Arena this week, making them 0–10 in the season. But they did pick up their first set victory of the season, and in another sign of progress, Buffalo scored 21 or more points in 6 of the 7 sets played.
In the first match, Buffalo trailed the entire first set, although they were close to CMU at 22–20. In the second set, after falling behind 12–5, Buffalo fought back and actually had a set point at 25–24, but then CMU scored the next three points to win the set.
The third set belonged to the Bulls, as their offense ran smoothly, and they hit an excellent 0.355 for the set. Buffalo went on an 8–0 run, served by freshman defensive specialist Emilie Davis, to give Buffalo an 11–3 lead. In that run, Davis had an ace and one other near-ace. And Central Michigan could not climb back and make the set competitive, the Bulls winning 25–18, as they held the Chippewas to a hitting percentage of 0.114. The Bulls had four blocks in the set, with three block assists each from senior middle blocker Lexi Nordmann and freshman right side Emma Gielas.
And then CMU took an early 11–3 lead in the fourth set, and while Buffalo was able to close to within 3 points at times, CMU prevailed.
For the match, Buffalo ran the one-setter offense with junior Kyndal Bacon running the show. The team outhit CMU 0.289 to 0.264, and Bacon picked up 48 assists, by far her best total with the Bulls. Freshman outside hitter Milla Malik (pictured above) had 18 kills, not only her career high, but the single game high for any Bulls player this year. Gielas had 14 kills, Nordmann had 10, sophomore outside hitter Abby Leigh had 9 and sophomore middle blocker Courtney Okwara had 8.
On defense, Leigh had 15 digs (a career high) and 5 blocks. Sophomore libero Jenna Sonnenberg had 13 digs and Bacon had 12. Okwara had 6 blocks, Gielas had 5 and Nordmann had 4.
The Bulls committed 14 service errors, and that was the likely difference in the match. Buffalo had 10.5 blocks compared to the Chippewas 3 blocks.
In the second match, Buffalo fell 25–22, 25–23 and 25–14. Their offense wasn’t quite as effective as in the first match, hitting just 0.205. Bacon handed out 38 assists. Sonnenberg led the team with 14 digs. The Bulls only had 3 blocks in the match after a stellar blocking performance the night before, and CMU had 10 blocks. Gielas led the team in points with 11.5 while Malik had 11.
- Malik missed the first six matches (I assume due to injury) but had made a huge difference since then, leading UB in the next four matches with 45 points over that span. Gielas has 43 points over that same span.
- The Bulls pulled off a very rare triple block against CMU in the first set of the first match. Thanks to the NCAA’s liberal scoring rules which says any defender who has their hands over the net when a block happens is given a block assist. Okwara, Gielas and Leigh all were there and all got a block assist, worth 0.5 points, and that’s how the team wound up with 10.5 blocks. But only Okwara actually touched the ball.
- Leigh struggled at serve receive in the previous week’s matches, but returned serve well this week. However, in the second match, she had six attack errors in the first set and was replaced by freshman outside hitter Stacia Gollogly, who had 4 kills and 4 errors.
- Buffalo plays at Eastern Michigan on Thursday, February 25 at 6pm and the next day at 4pm. Both matches will be somewhere on the ESPN streaming networks.