The UB Women’s Volleyball team did not win a set in their first 8 matches, and prior to Friday had won just 8 sets all year. Now they have won six consecutive sets, sweeping Northern Illinois on Saturday, and tonight dropping Akron 3–0. Buffalo is now 3–14 on the season.
Buffalo took the first set from Akron, after trailing 8–7, when junior defensive specialist Paige Beck’s tough serving led Buffalo on a 5–0 run. Although Akron would make runs at the Bulls, they would never catch Buffalo. Beck, who has not played much lately, was inserted into the lineup as a serving specialist to replace sophomore middle blocker Courtney Okwara when Okwara had to serve, and the move certainly paid off for Buffalo. Senior middle blocker Lexi Nordmann (pictured above) picked up 5 blocks in the first set (the most in a set for the Bulls this year).
After Akron took the first point of the second set, Buffalo led the rest of the way, winning 25–17. The Bulls hit 0.483 in the set, with just 3 attack errors. Junior outside hitter Monika Šimkova had two aces, while freshman outside hitter Milla Malik had 6 kills and one ace in the set.
Buffalo fell behind 10–5 in the third set, but tied it up at 14 all on an ace from Šimkova. From there, the teams played very evenly, with no team leading by more than 2 points, until the set was tied at 21. From there, an Akron ball handling error, a block by both Šimkova and Nordmann and then two kills from Nordmann gave the Bulls the set and the match.
The Bulls have dramatically cut down on their errors in the last two matches. Against Akron, Buffalo had just 4 service errors, something that they have struggled with throughout the season. They recorded five aces — four from Šimkova, the team’s leader in that category and one from Malik. Meanwhile, the Bulls returned serve reasonably well, as Akron scored just 2 aces, and their setter Emily Weigand, the MAC leader in aces, didn’t have one.
- For the match, Buffalo hit 0.340. Malik lead the team with 14 kills and hit 0.500. Nordmann had 8 kills, while Gielas, Okwara and Šimkova had 7 kills.
- Buffalo out-blocked Akron 8–4. Gielas had 3 blocks, Šimkova had 5 and Nordmann had 7. Nordmann’s 7 blocks are the season high for any Bull player.
- Malik and sophomore libero Jenna Sonnenberg tied for team high with 11 digs. Akron libero Taylor Sharrits had averaged over 9 digs per set (a ginormous number) the weekend before against Western Michigan, but Sharrits had just 8 digs against Buffalo (you do the math). It seems that part of the Bulls offensive strategy was to keep the ball away from Sharrits, which obviously worked very well.
- Buffalo setter Kyndal Bacon had 38 assists, and one block that doesn’t show up in the box score, but was the Play of the Match™. With Buffalo leading 2–1 in the second set, a bad pass by Akron meant that the Zip’s outside hitter Alexis Adleta had to pop the ball up from around her ankles, about 6 inches in front of the net and get the ball over the net — in other words, she had to hit the ball almost vertically. The 5 foot 8 inch Bacon anticipated the shot perfectly, and got both of her hands across the net forming a roof over the ball, and blocked the attempt by Adleta, the ball never crossing onto the Buffalo side of the net. Give Bacon a block, make that 9 blocks for Buffalo.
- Buffalo plays a pair of matches at Toledo, first on Friday, March 16 at 6pm and then the next day at 2pm. Both games will be streamed on ESPN+.