BALTIMORE – The UMBC volleyball team looks to remain unbeaten early in conference play when it hosts league newcomer UMass Lowell as well as New Hampshire to the RAC Arena this weekend. The Retrievers will first host the River Hawks on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. before welcoming New Hampshire on Sunday for a 1:00 p.m. contest.
Scouting the Retrievers
UMBC (10-6, 1-0 AE) opened conference play last weekend by hosting Stony Brook on Friday and defeated the Seawolves in four sets after dropping the opening frame. Sophomore Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) recorded a season-best 17 kills in the win while senior setter Rebecca Garrigues (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) handed out a career- high 36 assists.
For the year, senior Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary's Academy) leads America East setters in assists with a 9.68 assists per set average. Classmate Emily Witsaman (Medina, Ohio/Medina), meanwhile, paces the league in blocks, averaging 1.06 per set.
On the attack, McIntyre has plenty of options, beginning with senior Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) who has transitioned back to a hitting position and leads the Retrievers with 168 kills this season. Having served as UMBC's libero the past two seasons, Goc has excelled on defense as well, trailing only freshman libero Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) with 197 digs.
Scouting the River Hawks
UMass Lowell fell to 0-12 overall this season and 0-1 in conference play after getting swept by New Hampshire on the league's opening weekend. Freshman Ana Anadon posted a season-high 11 kills for the River Hawks while senior Olivia Parkins had 18 assists and seven digs.
Anisa Smith leads the River Hawks on the season in kills with a total of 67 put-aways while also ranking ninth in the league in blocks with a 0.76 blocks per set average.
Friday's contest will be the first-ever meeting between the Retrievers and the River Hawks. Prior to 2013, UMass Lowell was an NCAA Division II member, but made the transition to Division I before this academic year and joined the America East Conference.
Scouting the Wildcats
UNH won both of its contests last week, winning on the road in five sets at Harvard and then sweeping UMass Lowell to improve to 7-10 overall on the season and 1-0 in America East competition. Sophomore Tori Forrest and junior Taylor Dunklau both received conference honors this past Monday with Forrest garnering America East Player of the Week accolades and Dunklau earning the America East Setter of the Week award.
Dunklau averaged 11.1 assists per set on the week in the Wildcats' two wins while Forrest earned her sixth career double-double in the sweep of the River Hawks. The sophomore hitter is averaging 2.44 kills per set this season, good for 11th in the league, while senior Morgan Thatcher is second with a 2.86 average. Classmate Destiny Tolliver leads the Wildcats in blocks, averaging 0.98 per set.
All Time Series
UNH swept the season series with UMBC last year with both matches going into five sets. With the wins, UNH took an 11-9 lead in the all-time series with each of the meetings coming since 2003 when UMBC joined the America East Conference.
In the first match in Baltimore, the Retrievers twice rallied from a set down, but Sherelle Walker's 22 kills were not quite enough as UNH escaped with the win behind double-digit kills from four different players. In the return match, the Retrievers dropped the first two sets, but once again circled the wagons to push the match to the distance. Again, the Wildcats outlasted the Retrievers, however, thanks to 22 winners from Thatcher.