The UB women’s volleyball team (3-3) went 2-1 at the Crimson Tide Invitational in Tuscaloosa, AL this weekend.
The Bulls split their Friday action, beating the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (5-2) 3-1 and falling to the Alabama Crimson Tide (5-1) 3-0. Saturday, the Bulls came back from a 2-0 deficit against the Troy Trojans (2-3) to seal a 3-2 victory.
On Friday, the Bulls played stellar defense against Southern Mississippi, recording four blocks in the first set alone. UB took the contest 25-21, 19-25, 25-22, 25-21 while out-hitting the Golden Eagles .181 to .164.
Sophomore outside hitter Milla Malik led the team with 16 kills, two blocks and one ace through four sets. Junior middle blocker Courtney Okwara played very strong defensively, recording five blocks.
The Bulls recorded ten aces and held the Golden Eagles to zero, handing Southern Mississippi its first loss of the season.
Later that night, UB fell to the Alabama Crimson Tide in three sets. Despite mounting a 10-5 lead in the first set, a 15-3 run by Alabama shifted the momentum of the contest. After the 12-point run, the Crimson Tide never looked back.
Alabama recorded 11 aces and hit .309 for the match while the Bulls scored just one ace and hit a poor .127.
Despite a strong effort from freshman outside hitter Maria Futey (11 kills and seven digs), UB was unable to maintain the defensive pressure from its matchup with Southern Mississippi, recording only three blocks. The Crimson Tide took the match 25-18, 25-14, 25-13.
The following morning, the Bulls faced the Troy Trojans to cap off the Alabama Invite. After dropping the first two sets, UB won three sets in a row to secure the gutsy comeback victory. The Bulls recorded just five blocks through the first two sets before exploding for 12 blocks in the final three.
Strong defensive play from sophomore middle blocker Olivia Debortoli — who recorded nine blocks off the bench — pushed UB to victory. She was named MAC East Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts.
Malik led the Bulls’ offense with team-highs in kills (18) and aces (three), while Okwara and sophomore right side hitter Emma Gielas combined for 25 kills to seal the epic comeback victory over Troy.
After a two-week road trip to start the season, the Bulls will return to Buffalo to host the WNY Invitational. UB will take on Duquesne on Friday at 6 p.m. followed by two Saturday games against West Virginia at 10 a.m. and Canisius at 4 p.m.
Hunter Skoczylas is the assistant sports editor for The Spectrum and can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @HunterSkoczylas.
Hunter Skoczylas is the assistant sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found looking up random sports statistics, posting memes on Twitter, and dedicating his Sunday afternoons to watching the Buffalo Bills.