BUFFALO, NY - Senior libero Kelly Svoboda has been named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and Svoboda and sophomore Tahleia Bishop were named first-team All-MAC, the conference announced on Thursday morning. This is the first time since joining the league in 1998 that not only has a Buffalo player won an individual postseason honor, but the first time that a UB player has made the league's first team.
Svoboda had arguably the best season any libero has had in school history this past year as she has set a number of school records. Named the MAC East Defensive Player of the Week four times this year, Svoboda has recorded 626 digs this season, a single-season school record at Buffalo. She is averaging 5.74 digs per set, which is currently first in the MAC and fifth in the nation and it is more than a full dig higher than second in school history. Svoboda highlighted her season in a five-set match against Toledo, where she recorded 43 digs, a Division I school record and the most digs in a single match in the MAC since 2010. Svoboda recorded double figures in digs in 27 of 29 matches, including the last 16 in a row. She has also recorded at least 20 digs in the last six matches. Svoboda has recorded 30 or more digs five times this year and 20 or more 18 times. In addition to her outstanding digging total, Svoboda also has 25 service aces and 71 assists.
Bishop has had a record-breaking season in her own right as she has 400 kills on the year, the most by a UB player since 2006 and the first under the current 25-point set structure. Bishop went over the 20-kill mark seven times this year, including a career-high 26 kills at Akron. Bishop set a school record for kills in a three-set match with 20 and she also finished with the school's first 20-kill, 20-dig match since 2003. She has played both her natural outside hitter position as well as filling in on the right side due to injuries. In addition to her 400 kills, Bishop also has 172 digs, which are third on the team and 71 blocks, which are fourth on the team.
"I am so proud of Kelly and Tahleia and these honors are both very well deserved," said head coach Todd Kress. "These honors show how far along this program has come over the last five years. Coaches around the league picked these teams and for them to vote Kelly as the top defensive player in the entire conference and Tahleia has one of the top 18 players in the conference just shows that the success we had this season was recognized through out the leauge."
These honors continue a list on what turned to be a record-breaking season for the Bulls in 2013. UB finished tied for seventh in the Mid-American Conference, its highest finish ever and its six conference wins were the most since joining the league in 1998. The Bulls, who are 18-11, have tied for their most overall wins since 1996 with 18, both coming under Kress.
The Bulls will take the court one more time next Saturday as they host West Virginia on Nov. 30.