The UB volleyball team ended its non-conference season with one win and two losses at the Florida Gulf Coast tournament, making their record 8–4.
Senior setter Emma Puzausky, who had started just two matches previously in her career, started and was the Bulls’ only setter in the FGCU tournament, as sophomore setter Mandy Leigh was unavailable due to injury.
In the first match against St. Francis (Brooklyn), Buffalo won 3–0 and hit 0.282, compared to just 0.170 for St. Francis. The Bulls were led by senior right side Emma Gielas with 12 kills, senior middle blocker Abby Leigh with 10 kills (and zero attack errors) and senior middle blocker Courtney Okwara with 7 kills. Although I didn’t see the match (no live stream), whenever the right side and middle blockers are the leading scorers, it is because the team’s passing was right on target and the setter made good decisions and good sets. Puzausky set a career high with 29 assists.
The next match, against FGCU (a team that went to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago) began promisingly for the Bulls. Although the Bulls dropped the first set 25–22, they came back from a 5 point deficit to trail just 23–22 before finally losing. Buffalo took a marathon second set 32–30, leading most of the way. A kill from Okwara gave the Bulls their third set point at 31–30. Because Buffalo was out of (or nearly out of) substitutions in the long set, Buffalo coach Scott Smith let Okwara serve, something she has not done all year. Okwara served an ace, just the second of her career, and the match was tied at 1–1.
Buffalo dropped the next two sets, 25–21 (despite leading 19–18) and 25–17. For most of this match, the Bulls could not work Abby Leigh into the offense, as she scored just 4 kills. Nor could they get Gielas into the offense for the first three sets, as she had just 4 kills after 3 sets. But in the 4th set, the Bulls made an effort to get Gielas going, and she responded with 4 kills in the final set, but it wasn’t enough. When two of your best scorer’s aren’t scoring, it’s tough to win. Okwara had 12 kills and sophomore outside hitter Katrin Trebichavská had 16. Puzauski shattered her career high, picking up 44 assists.
Against Florida Atlantic, the Bulls were swept, and hit just 0.087. The Bulls were able to work Abby Leigh back into the offense, but not Gielas or Trebichavská. Abby Leigh had 8 kills and hit 0.357, Okwara had 7 kills and hit 0.400, but no other UB player hit above 0.118. Fifth year outside hitter Cali Assaley led the team with 9 kills. Puzausky had 28 assists and led the team with 10 digs.
- The MAC schedule begins as Buffalo travels to Western Michigan for matches on Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24.
- Puzausky picked up 101 assists in 10 sets, that’s an average of over 10 assists per set, generally considered a good average.
- Junior defensive specialist Emilie Davis has turned into a serving weapon. She had just 1 career ace up until the 7th match of her junior season. And in the next 5 matches, she has 7 aces (and just 5 errors).