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Volleyball Wins 2 in Alabama Tournament

Freshman libero Hannah Jacoby, flanked at left by freshman setter Mandy Leigh and at right by freshman outside hitter Maria Futey
Paige Miller

At the Alabama torunament, Buffalo defeated Southern Mississippi 3–1 and then lost to Alabama 3–0 on the first day. In the final match of the tournament for UB, the Bulls hit just 0.136 in the first two sets, losing both, against Troy who had beaten Alabama 3–1 the day before. Things looked bleak.

And then the Buffalo offense went out of its mind, putting up numbers that you could not have possibly anticipated. Over the last three sets, Buffalo hit 0.342, 0.455 and 0.700 with a just 2 errors in the fourth set and no attack errors in the fifth set. Buffalo had not hit 0.342 in any set so far this year.

Not only did the offense kick into gear, but Buffalo’s blocking went bonkers as well. The Bulls picked up 5 blocks in the first two sets, and then 12 the rest of the way, including 4 in the final set. The Bulls finished with 17 blocks, their most in 6 years, and way above their previous high this season of 8 blocks.

Who are these people?

The Bulls shocked Troy by coming back from 2–0 down, and taking the match 3–2.

Key lineup changes helped the Bulls’ cause, with sophomore right side Emma Gielas coming off the bench to replace sophomore Stacia Gollogly, and Gielas picked up 13 kills and a career high 6 blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Oliva DeBortoli came off the bench in the second set replacing junior middle blocker Abby Leigh, and although DeBortoli had only one kill, she picked up 9 block assists, by far her career high.

Of course the starters added in some big numbers as well. Sophomore outside hitter Milla Malik finished with 18 kills and 3 aces and no service errors. Junior middle blocker Courtney Okwara set a career high with 12 kills, and added in 6 blocks which ties her career high.

Freshman setter Mandy Leigh picked up a career high 46 assists and career high 4 blocks. Freshman libero Hannah Jacoby had a career high 15 digs, while freshman outside hitter Maria Futey had 13 digs.

Buffalo defeated previously undefeated Southern Mississippi, winning the last three sets. Malik led the team with 16 kills, while Futey had 13 and Abby Leigh had 9. Okwara had 5 blocks and Abby Leigh had 3.

Against Alabama, Buffalo took a 9–3 lead in the first set, the last three points coming on a solo block by Mandy Leigh, a setter dump by Leigh, and then a block assist from Leigh. And from that point on, Alabama outplayed Buffalo in every phase of the game.

Buffalo is now 3–3 on the season. They play a tournament at Alumni Arena next weekend, facing Duquesne on Friday, Sept. 10 at 6pm, West Virginia on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 10am and then later that day they face Canisius at 4pm. No live streaming has been announced.

Notes:

  • Junior libero Jenna Sonnenberg missed the previous weekend due to injury. She made her first appearance in the third set against Alabama, and picked up 6 digs.
  • Gielas, the teams top scorer a year ago, had appeared in only one set prior to the Troy match.
  • Malik has led the Bulls in points and kills in five of the six matches this year.
  • The last time that the Bulls had 17 or more blocks in a match was at Central Michigan in 2015, when they had 18 blocks.