Ole Miss Rallies Past UMBC Volleyball for Four-Set Victory in Season Opener
Sophomore Krystal Mlemchukwu
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The UMBC volleyball team won the opening set 25-17 on one of ten kills by sophomore Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech), but Ole Miss rallied and took the next three to defeat the Retrievers in four sets, 17-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-14, Friday evening at the GW/Nike Invitational at George Washington’s Smith Center.
Mlemchukwu was one of two Retrievers with double-digit kills as classmate Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) led UMBC (0-1) with 15 put-aways. Senior setter Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary’s Academy) handed out 34 assists while freshman Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) paced the squad with 13 digs.
Kara Morgan led Ole Miss (1-0) with 13 kills while Kristen Brashear picked up a match-best 15 digs.
After falling behind 7-5 early in the opening set, the Retrievers ran off five straight points, capped by a kill by junior Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales), and never looked back. An attack error stopped the UMBC run, but four more Retriever points, three courtesy of Mlemchukwu kills, put the Black and Gold up 14-8. The Rebels then took five of the next seven points to cut the lead to three at 16-13, but they could not get any closer as the Retrievers pulled away for the first set win, 25-17.
UMBC used another early rally in the second set to once again take the lead 6-3, but this time the Retrievers could not hold off their SEC foe. The Rebels answered with a five-point string of their own for an 8-6 lead and never trailed again. UMBC tied the set at 8-8 and pulled within one twice, but could not complete the comeback as Ole Miss tied the match with a 25-19 win.
The third set saw each squad run off a string of six or more points in a row and UMBC looked poised to take a 2-1 set lead after a ball handling error gave the Retrievers a 23-21 lead. Following an Ole Miss timeout, however, the Rebels won the next four points to steal the set, 25-23.
In the fourth, the Rebels broke open a close affair, winning 11 of the final 14 points to shut the door. Ole Miss hit .423 in the frame (13 kills, 2 errors, 26 total attempts) while limiting the Retrievers to a .030 average.
UMBC returns to the nation’s capital on Saturday for a doubleheader on the second day of the season-opening tournament. The Black and Gold take on weekend-host George Washington at 10:00 a.m. and then face-off against in-state rival Maryland at 5:00 p.m.
- UMBC has now lost three straight season openers. The Retrievers last won their first match of the year in 2010 when they swept Coppin State at the RAC Arena.
- The Retrievers fall to 0-4 all-time against opponents from the SEC (0-1 vs. Alabama; 0-1 vs. Arkansas; 0-1 vs. Auburn; 0-1 vs. Ole Miss).
- Ole Miss outhit UMBC .157-.053 for the match.
- Walker has now recorded double-digit kills 16 times in her career and in five straight contests dating back to the 2012 season.