WASHINGTON, D.C. – UMBC sophomore Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech) notched 13 kills and senior Emily Witsaman (Medina, Ohio/Medina) sent down 12 winners, but it was not quite enough as American outlasted the UMBC volleyball teams in five sets (23-25, 25-17, 25-14, 19-25, 15-7), Wednesday night at Bender Arena.
Freshman libero Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) once again led the UMBC (9-6) back line, picking up 18 digs in the losing effort. Senior Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) was also in double figures for digs with 12, while setter Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary's Academy) recorded a double-double with 41 assists and ten digs.
Allison Cappellino led all hitters with 18 hitters while Kristyna Lindovska (17), Juliana Crum (10), and Kelly McCaddin (10) also registered double-digit kills for American (14-1). Crum also scooped up 15 digs for a double-double while Monika Smidova sent out 55 assists and picked up 12 digs.
The Eagles outhit the Retrievers .262-.158 and recorded more digs (67-62) and blocks (12.0-9.0), but UMBC would not go away, pushing the match to the brink.
The visitors jumped out to an early lead behind Goc's serving, staking to a 7-1 advantage following a kill by Witsaman. UMBC kept American at bay for a time and led 16-8 after another Witsaman kill, but the hosts slowly chipped away and knotted the opening frame at 23-23 on a Retriever attack error. UMBC shower resolve, though, and went up 24-23 on a Mlemchukwu kill and took the set on an Eagle attack error.
The second set featured back-and-forth runs, and after going down by three, 11-8, UMBC pulled within one on a kill by junior Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales) and an American attack miscue. The Retrievers could not quite pull all the way back, however, and a late 7-2 Eagle run all but put the set away and the hosts went on to level the match with a 25-17 set win.
America carried the momentum into the third frame, claiming a 10-5 lead on a block by Smidova and Bree Scarbrough. The Retrievers responded with back-to-back points, but could never muster a rally and fell 25-14 in the third set.
UMBC did not fold though, and steadily built a lead in the fourth set. After American tied the set at 9-9, UMBC went on a 10-3 run capped by one of four service aces from McIntyre. The Retrievers then held the Eagles at bay and forced a decisive fifth set on a kill by sophomore Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock).
In the final frame, the teams traded points and were tied at 5-5 before AU claimed five consecutive points for a 10-5 advantage. UMBC cut back with two points in a row, but the Eagles closed the match with another 5-0 run.
UMBC now returns home to open up America East play by hosting Stony Brook on Friday, September 27 at the RAC Arena. The conference matchup between the Retrievers and Seawolves is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start.
- American now leads the all-time series, 25-11, and has won nine straight meetings.
- The last five-set contest between the Retrievers and Eagles came back on Sept. 23, 1997 with American winning, 3-2.
- Goc tallied eight kills, snapping her run of three-straight matches with double digit kills.
- Griffith has picked up 13 or more digs in each of UMBC's last five contests.
- The Retrievers are 2-2 in five-set matches this season.