The UB Volleyball team picked up their first sweep of the season, and just their second win of the season, as they defeated Northern Illinois today, after losing to the Huskies the night before 3–1. Buffalo is now 2–14 on the season.
In the first match, Buffalo fell behind 18–11 in the first set, and then went on a long run but trailed 23–19. Then Buffalo’s junior outside hitter Monika Šimkova stepped to the service line and her strong serves completely disrupted the Northern Illinois offense. With the set tied at 23, Šimkova pulled off the Play of the Match™. Her tough serve, nearly an ace, forced the Huskies out of system, but they still got off a strong attack, and Šimkova not only dug the ball at her ankles, but put up a perfect pass to junior setter Kyndal Bacon, whose set to senior middle block Lexi Nordmann resulted in a kill that put Buffalo up by 1. A kill by freshman outside hitter Milla Malik ended the set.
But the rest of the match belonged to Northern Illinois. The Bulls made many unforced errors, from the service line, and by letting playable balls drop between them when each Bull player thought the other would play the ball. Although the Bulls served poorly in general, with 14 errors, Šimkova served well the entire match and didn’t commit an error. Malik led the team with 13 kills, freshman right side Emma Gielas had 12 kills, Nordmann had 10, sophomore middle blocker Courtney Okwara had 9 and Šimkova had 9.
The second match saw the Bulls dramatically cut back on the unforced errors, and they executed well in all phases of the game. They led all the way in set 1, then fell behind 5–0 in set 2, but then pulled ahead 17–12; then NIU took a 20–18 lead, but then Buffalo scored the next four points to take the lead for good. In the third set, Buffalo ran away from the Huskies, opening up a 12 point lead. On match point, with Buffalo leading 24–14, the capacity crowd at Alumni Arena rose to their feet, waved brooms in the air and chanted “Sweep, Sweep”. And Šimkova smashed a cross-court kill to end the match.
Buffalo wound up hitting 0.291, while holding Northern Illinois to a hitting percentage of just 0.150. Buffalo had 8 blocks (6 by Okwara tying her career high). Gielas had 13 kills and just 2 errors, for a hitting percentage of 0.611 (yikes!), Malik had 10 kills, Nordmann had 7 and Okwara had 8.
- Buffalo next faces Akron for a single contest on Tuesday, March 16 at 6pm at Alumni Arena.
- Sophomore outside hitter Abby Leigh returned from what I presume was an injury, and played defensive specialist in both matches, replacing Gielas in the back row. A year ago, Leigh was the only player I have seen for Buffalo play all three front row positions, and now the 6–2 Leigh adds a fourth position to her list of accomplishments. Leigh had 3 aces and 10 digs across the two matches.
- Sophomore libero Jenna Sonnenberg led the Bulls with 23 digs in the first match and another 12 in the second match. Šimkova had 22 digs across the two matches.
- In the second match, Buffalo coach Scott Smith used all three of his challenges midway through the second set, and so had no challenges left for the rest of the game. Fortunately, he didn’t need any more challenges.