Katrin Trebichavska — get used to hearing that name. I think you will hear it a lot.
Trebichavska, a 5-10 sophomore outside hitter who transferred to Buffalo after playing two years at Bowling Green, put on a stunning display of volleyball power in two exhibition games yesterday, both wins (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 games, including 7 against Canisius. Trebichavska’s first serve of the match resulted in an overpass from Canisius and a UB point. His 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 is from Slovakia, and in international women’s volleyball, many players practice the jump serve, and her approach is quintessentially European with her right arm extended horizontally and the ball held as far away from her body as possible. Buffalo hasn’t had a player with a jump serve like this since libero Kelly Svoboda in 2013. (Former bull Andrea Mitrovic also used a jump serve, but never produced much speed, and he was never particularly effective).
But it wasn’t just on serve that Trebichavska raised her eyebrows. She has one of the toughest attacks in recent memory. She has great speed on her arm swing, which results in great speed on the ball, and the defense has rarely been able to return her attack. Accuracy was a concern for both attack and serve, but you can tell it’s a high-risk, high-reward style of play. Trebichavska also produced outstanding defensive plays throughout both matches.
In other good news for the Bulls, senior Abby Leigh, who missed most of last season with a concussion, was back on the field. However, she could only play as a defensive specialist (rather than the first tier where she usually plays) as she was only medically cleared to play in the second tier.
The other stars were second-year outside hitter Maria Futey, who looked strong on offense. Libero Jenna Sonnenberg also looked strong in the regular season. Futey and Sonnenberg both came close to double-digit aces in both matches. Junior middle blocker Stacia Gollogly played strong sets against D’Youville, and junior right wing Emma Gielas picked up where she left off last season as a serious offensive weapon. Sophomore setter Mandy Leigh (Abby’s sister) led the offense effectively in both games.
- Before Abby Leigh was injured last year, she scored a lot of points thanks to the assists of her sister Mandy. In the third set against Canisius, possibly for the first time at UB, Abby helped Mandy kill. Abby dug in an attack from Canisius, and the ball went through the air towards Mandy, who pushed it to the Canisius side of the court, for a kill. Truly a rare event, as Mandy is not a great goalscorer.
- Diacritical marks for European players: Volleybox.net (which I think mostly succeeds) spells it as Trebichavská, so from now on that’s how I’ll spell it.
- The incoming rookies for UB have been announced: Lauren Otten, a 6-0 outside hitter from Cincinnati, OH (Saint Urusula Academy); Cali Assaley, a 6-0 senior outside hitter transferred from Louisiana-Monroe; and Tehya Shaw, a 6-0 middle tackle from York, Pennsylvania.
- Last year’s leading scorer, second-year outside forward Milla Malik has retired from the sport.
- Weird moment: A dig by a UB player went through the net and down about an inch down Canisius’ side. Trebichavská put her hands under the net, returned the ball to the UB side where play continued for a couple of seconds until the refs (remember, it’s an exhibition game for them too) realize you can’t do that. After the set, UB coach Scott Smith and Trebichavská had a long discussion about the game with the referee, arguing (I think) that the game should be legal since the ball was outside the antenna and that Trebichavská’s hands were outside the antenna. Who is right ? I have no idea, I’ve never seen a room like this before.
- Is volleyball a fun sport? Usually it does, and D’Youville, who was 3-24 last year and had just been beaten 25-6 by UB in the third set, had a moment that made everyone smile. the team. Setter Emma Wlostowski, who is 5-7, soloed a block on a full-throttle attack from Trebichavská, one of the few times a defense was effective against Trebichavská. Wlostowski was grinning from ear to ear for the next five games, and that block helped D’Youville rally and take a 12-11 lead over the Bulls.