BALTIMORE – The UMBC volleyball team kicks off its 2013 season on Friday at the GW/Nike Invitational in Washington, D.C. The Retrievers open the season with a match against SEC foe Ole Miss at 5:00 p.m. at the Smith Center before returning on Saturday to take on tournament host George Washington and in-state rival Maryland at 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., respectively.
Scouting the Retrievers
Although the UMBC volleyball team has made a school-record five consecutive trips to the America East Championships, the Retrievers are not content. Getting to the tournament is nice, but the ultimate goal of winning the league and reaching the NCAA Tournament has still not been obtained since 1998. With this firmly in mind, the 2013 Retrievers look to take that next step and have built the team and program in this fashion.
UMBC returns five starters and a total of 12 letter-winners from last year's team which posted an 8-4 record in the America East, a school-best since joining the league in 2003. In addition, the roster features six seniors who know what it takes to succeed.
The Retrievers are most experienced at setter and in the back row where 2012 America East Co-Setter of the Year Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary's Academy) returns to guide the offense, and seniors Hallie Carter (Huntingtown Beach, Calif./Edison) and Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) bring on-court leadership to the group. McIntyre broke out last year in her first season as UMBC's setter, leading the league in assists, sending them out at a 9.78 per set clip. Carter and Goc, meanwhile, have done nearly everything on the court for the Retrievers during their first three seasons as they have combined to miss only one set over that span.
McIntyre has plenty of options to spray the ball to as junior Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales) and sophomore Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquahannock) bring firepower from the outside. Last season the duo combined for 598 kills while Walker was third in the conference in hitting percentage (.252).
Up the middle, redshirt sophomore and 2012 America East All-Conference Second Team selection Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech) looks to continue her progression as one of the best middles in the league. Also an All-Rookie team honoree, Mlemchukwu finished fourth in the America East in hitting efficiency and fifth in blocks per set (0.85).
Scouting the Rebels
Ole Miss returns three starters and eight letterwinners from a squad that finished the 2012 season with a 12-17 record overall. The Rebels finished sixth in the SEC West last season with a 6-14 mark. Entering his 12th year in Oxford, Miss., head coach Joe Getzin holds a 145-182 record.
The Rebels look strong up the middle as sophomores Nakeyta Clair and Ty Laporte both return. The pair, who are both over 6-0, combined for 149 total blocks as rookies last season while Laporte recorded a team-best .302 hitting percentage. Leading hitter senior Kara Morgan hopes to build on a stellar junior campaign in which she paced the Rebels with 311 kills while hitting .223.
Inside the Series
UMBC and Ole Miss have never met on the court for volleyball. The Retrievers are 0-3 all-time against SEC schools, falling to Arkansas last season at the Adidas/Michigan Challenge (0-1 vs. Alabama; 0-1 vs. Arkansas; 0-1 vs. Auburn).
Scouting the Colonials
George Washington went 10-18 overall with a 7-7 record in the Atlantic 10 in 2012 but returns seven letterwinners and brings in seven newcomers for the new campaign. Third-year head coach Amanda Ault has guided GW to a 30-28 record in her first two seasons with a 19-5 mark at the Smith Center.
The Colonials bring back two of their top hitters from 2012 in senior middle Jamie Armstrong and junior hitter Kelsey Newman. Newman was one of only two Colonials to record 200+kills and 100+ digs a year ago while Armstrong led the team with 80 total blocks.
Inside the Series
GW outlasted UMBC is a thrilling five-set contest last season in Washington, D.C. to extend its all-time lead to 20-1. The Retrievers picked up their only victory against the Colonials on Sept. 19, 2008 in a three-set sweep at the West Virginia Volleyball Classic.
Scouting the Terps
Maryland brings back five starters from last season in which the Terps went 17-15 overall and 8-12 in the ACC to finish eighth. Under sixth-year head coach Tim Horsmon, the Terps are 66-95 while he is 291-188 in 14 seasons as a head coach.
The Terps return three of their top attackers from 2012 with outside hitter Ashleigh Crutcher coming off of a 443-kill performance as a sophomore. Adreene Elliott (312 kills) and Mary Cushman (240 kills) also return for Maryland who must replace both setters from last season who each dolled out 600+assists last year.
Inside the Series
Maryland has won all ten meetings between the in-state rivals, but the two schools have not met since 2009 and only twice since 2002. The Terps took that contest in four sets with the Retrievers winning the second frame, 25-20.