BALTIMORE – The UMBC volleyball team swept past St. Francis (Pa.) in its weekend opener behind ten kills from sophomore Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) and then eased by NJIT in straight sets in the night cap by getting 12 winners from senior Emily Witsaman (Medina, Ohio/Medina), Friday afternoon on the first day of the Maddie Bingaman Tournament at the RAC Arena.
Senior setter Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary's Academy) handed out 31 assists in the opener, and followed it up with 34 helpers against the Highlanders as UMBC (6-4) swept its fourth straight match.
Following the loss to UMBC, St. Francis (Pa.) (0-9) fell in four sets to Howard while NJIT (1-5) only played one match on Friday.
In the opener, the Retrievers held the Red Flash to .074 hitting and recorded 6.5 total blocks. Eight different athletes recorded at least one put-away with senior Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) putting down eight and scooping up seven digs. Freshman Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) led the Retriever backline with 15 digs in the three-set contest.
After St. Francis (Pa.) jumped out to a 4-2 lead, UMBC ran off 11 of the next 13 points and never trailed again. Back-to-back Red Flash points cut the lead to just three, 11-8, but the visitors never got any closer as UMBC used five Walker kills for a 25-19 first set win.
UMBC squandered an early 3-0 lead in the second frame, but recovered and rattled off five straight after a 5-5 tie for a 10-5 advantage. The Retrievers again stemmed the tide after two Red Flash points with six consecutive points behind the serving of senior Robbin Lee (Olney, Md./Sherwood) for a 17-8 lead. St. Francis (Pa). rallied to cut the lead to five, but UMBC grew the lead steadily and earned a 25-15 set win on an attack error.
In the third set, UMBC never won more than two points in a row until late, but slowly pulled away from the Red Flash. Leading 19-14, though, the Retrievers claimed the final six rallies to win the match with a 25-14 third set victory.
In the final contest of day one, UMBC got on NJIT early and never let up, cruising to a three-set victory after hitting .452 against the Highlanders. Goc nearly picked up the double-double in the quick 59-minute match, sending down ten kills and picking up nine digs. Sophomore setter Paige Miller (Reading, Pa./Schuylkill Valley) helped in the wide-spread offense, sending out five assists.
The visitors won each of the first two points, but never won back-to-back points again, and a 9-0 run gave UMBC the cushion it needed. The Retrievers later strung seven points in a row and won the opener going away, 25-8.
The surge continued in the second set as UMBC won seven straight to open the frame and added three more after a Highlander point for a 10-1 lead. Three consecutive NJIT points trimmed the lead to 10-4, but another 5-0 run all but put the set away for the Black and Gold. Goc recorded six kills on just eight swings in the frame as UMBC took a two sets to none lead by winning the second set, 25-12.
The third set saw more of the same as the hosts won the opening rally, and never trailed, taking the match with a 25-11 win. Seven Retrievers notched at least one kill in the frame, including freshman Zoya Trendafilova (Sophia, Bulgaria/Elisaveta Bagryana), who recorded her first winner since the season-opener versus Ole Miss.
UMBC concludes weekend play on Saturday afternoon with a match against local rival Coppin State. The Retrievers and Eagles are scheduled to hit the RAC Arena court at 2:30 p.m.
- UMBC now leads the all-time series with St. Francis (Pa.) 11-3 and has won eight straight meetings.
- The Retrievers also improved to 3-0 all-time versus NJIT.
- Miller's five assists were her first of the season.
- Freshman Elise Adamson (Bel Air, Md./John Carroll) recorded her first career kill in the sweep of St. Francis (Pa.)