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Bulls Sweep Miami as Okwara Dominates

Junior middle blocker Courtney Okwara
ubbulls.com

The UB Volleyball team picked up their second straight victory over Miami (OH), this time via a sweep, 25–22, 25–21, 25–16. Buffalo is now 9–5 for the season and 2–0 in the MAC. #One4Mon

For the last decade or so, the Miami Redhawks have been one of the premier volleyball teams in the MAC, and last season they were the #4 seed into the MAC Tournament. This year, the Redhawks have struggled, with a 2–10 record. The UB victory over Miami marks only the second time that Buffalo has swept the season series from Miami; the other time it happened was in 2010.

The Bulls hit 0.368 against Miami, their highest hitting percentage of the season, led by junior middle blocker Courtney Okwara who had 14 kills, and no attack errors, for a hitting percentage of 0.609. Okwara added in 5 blocks for the Bulls. Fourteen kills is a lot in a three set match, and even more impressive from a middle blocker.

In the previous match, Buffalo coach Scott Smith changed his serving rotation in the fifth set against Miami to have Okwara start on the court, instead of starting on the bench. This meant more court time for Okwara, and Smith stuck with that serving rotation during the second match against Miami. (Think of a baseball batting order where the players at the top of the lineup get more plate appearances than the players at the bottom). And time after time, Okwara was able to take quick sets from freshman setter Mandy Leigh and pound the ball to the Miami side of the court. Okwara finished the match with such a kill, untouched by the Redhawk defense. The connection between Okwara and Leigh was excellent all match long.

In fact, the connection between Leigh and all the attackers was sharp, and the Bulls hit over 0.400 in the last two sets; and clearly better than the previous night when the Bulls hit 0.151 for the match. Leigh would finish with 37 assists.

Okwara had plenty of help as sophomore right side Emma Gielas had 9 kills and 7 blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Milla Malik had 12 kills. Senior defensive specialist Kyndal Bacon and freshman libero Hannah Jacoby each had 10 digs. Bacon again provided a defensive highlight reel, with many over her digs coming as she dove towards the ball and contacted the ball while parallel to the floor.

Buffalo plays two road matches next weekend (October 1, 2021 and October 2, 2021) against defending MAC Champion Bowling Green.

Notes:

  • Sophomore middle blocker Olivia DeBortoli had 5 kills and only 1 attack error, hitting 0.444 and she recorded 5 blocks.
  • Leigh had 3 kills and no attack errors.
  • Miami Coach Carolyn Condit was so frustrated with her team’s performance that during the second set, she sent in her backup libero, her third string setter and third string right side.