MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Senior hitter Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) totaled 13 kills and 14 digs to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team, but weekend host West Virginia edged the UMBC volleyball team in four sets (25-19, 18-25, 25-21, 25-20), Sunday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum on the final day of the Gold and Blue Players Challenge.
Sophomore Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) led UMBC (9-5) with 14 winners on the day while junior Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales) and freshman Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) each scooped up 12 digs.
Nikki Attea led all hitters with 15 kills for West Virginia (13-1), who won all three of its matches this weekend. Evyn McCoy and Hannah Sackett were also in double figures in kills for the Mountaineers with Attea earning a double-double with 17 digs.
The teams could not separate themselves in the early going, trading mini runs and the lead. Down 12-10, the Retrievers claimed three straight points, the last on a kill by Walker, to take the lead back 13-12. WVU responded in turn, however, and used a four-point run to retake the lead 16-13, and the Mountaineers did not relinquish it. UMBC got back within two at 20-18 on a kill by Schmidt, but could not get any close as the Mountaineers won the opening frame, 25-19.
In the second set, the visitors jumped out an early 5-0 lead courtesy of four WVU attack errors and a kill by Goc. The hosts slowly chipped away, and knotted the set at 13-13 on a service ace by McCoy. UMBC responded in turn, winning seven of the next nine points for a 20-15 lead and did not look back, leveling the match with a 25-18 win.
The Retrievers stayed hot to open the third set, winning the first three points and building an 8-3 lead after a kill by sophomore Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech). West Virginia played catch-up again and drew even at 12-12 with a 4-0 run. UMBC stymied the charge, however, retaking the lead and forcing a WVU timeout with a 19-17 advantage. The Mountaineers came out of the stoppage and won eight of the final ten points to win the set, 25-21.
The back-and-forth play continued in the fourth set with the teams exchanging runs and the lead. Down 7-3, UMBC rallied quickly and knotted the set at 9-9 on a block by senior Emily Witsaman (Medina, Ohio/Medina) and Schmidt. The Retrievers carried the momentum for a 12-10 lead, but WVU came right back with four straight for a 14-12 lead. Another Retriever block, this one by Witsaman and senior Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary's Academy) capped another run for a 16-14 UMBC advantage, but the visitors never scored back-to-back points again as West Virginia rallied for a 25-20 set win.
UMBC now finishes its non-conference schedule with a match against American on Wednesday, Sept. 25 in Washington, D.C.
- West Virginia now owns an 8-1 lead in the all-time series.
- Goc recorded 43 kills in the three matches at weekend tournament.