Katrin Trebichavska — get used to hearing that name. I think you’ll be hearing it a lot.
Trebichavska, a 5–10 sophomore outside hitter who transferred to Buffalo after playing two years at Bowling Green, put on an eye-popping display of power volleyball in two exhibition matches yesterday, both victories (over Canisius and D’Youville).
Trebichavska displayed a powerful jump serve, something rarely seen in women’s college volleyball these days. She picked up 10 aces over the two matches, including 7 against Canisius. Trebichavska’s first serve of the match resulted in a Canisius overpass and a UB point. Her next serve was an ace. Later in the first set, she racked up three aces in a row. To put her 10 aces in perspective, no UB player had more than 0.25 aces per set last year, but yesterday Trebichavska averaged 1.25 aces per set. She hails from Slovakia, and in international women’s volleyball, there are many players practicing the jump serve, and her approach is typically European with her right arm extended horizontally and the ball held as far from her body as possible. Buffalo has not had a player with a jump serve like this since libero Kelly Svoboda way back in 2013. (Former Bull Andrea Mitrovic also used a jump serve, but never produced a lot of velocity, and it was never particularly effective).
But it wasn’t just serving where Trebichavska raised eyebrows. She has one of the hardest attacks in recent memory. She has great speed on her arm swing, leading to great velocity on the ball, and the defense rarely was able to return her attack. Accuracy was a concern both attacking and serving, but you can say that its a high risk and high reward style of play. Trebichavska also made some outstanding defensive plays throughout the two matches.
More good news for the Bulls: senior Abby Leigh, who missed most of last season due to a concussion, was back on the court. However, she could only play defensive specialist (rather than front row where she usually plays) because she has only been medically cleared to play back row.
Other standouts were sophomore outside hitter Maria Futey, who looked strong on offense. Libero Jenna Sonnenberg also looked in regular season form. Futey and Sonnenberg both came close to double-digit aces over the two matches. Junior middle blocker Stacia Gollogly played some strong sets against D’Youville, and junior right side Emma Gielas picked right up where she left off last season as a serious offensive weapon. Sophomore setter Mandy Leigh (Abby’s sister) ran the offense effectively in both matches.
- Before Abby Leigh was injured last year, she scored a lot of points on assists from her sister Mandy. In the third set against Canisius, possibly for the first time at UB, Abby assisted on a kill by Mandy. Abby dug an attack from Canisius, and the ball went up in the air towards Mandy, who pushed it down on the Canisius side of the court, for a kill. Truly a rare event, as Mandy is not a big scorer.
- Diacritical marks for European players: Volleybox.net (who I think gets it right most of the time) spells it as Trebichavská, so from now on, that’s how I will spell it.
- Incoming recruits for UB have been announced: Lauren Otten, a 6-0 outside hitter from Cincinnati, OH (Saint Urusula Academy); Cali Assaley, a senior 6-0 outside hitter transfer from Louisiana-Monroe; and Tehya Shaw, a 6-0 middle blocker from York, Pa.
- Last year’s leading scorer, sophomore outside hitter Milla Malik, has retired from the sport.
- Bizarre moment: a dig by a UB player traveled over the net and came down about an inch on the Canisius side. Trebichavská put her hands under the net, popped the ball up back to the UB side where play continued for two or three seconds until the refs (remember, it’s an exhibition match for them too) realized you can’t do that. After the set, UB coach Scott Smith and Trebichavská had a lengthy discussion of the play with the ref, arguing (I think) that the play should be legal since the ball was outside the antenna and Trebichavská’s hands were outside the antenna. Who’s right? I have no idea, I never saw a play like that before.
- Is volleyball a fun sport? Usually it is, and D’Youville, who had a 3–24 record last year and had just been beaten 25–6 by UB in the third set, had a moment which brought huge smiles to the entire team. D’Youville setter Emma Wlostowski, who stands 5–7, came up with a solo block on a full-swing attack by Trebichavská, one of the few times any defense was effective against Trebichavská. Wlostowski had an ear-to-ear grin for the next five plays, and that block helped D’Youville rally and take a 12-11 lead over the Bulls.