MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The UMBC volleyball team extended its win streak to eight matches, following a pair of victories on Saturday at the Gold and Blue Players Challenge hosted by West Virginia University. Senior Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) posted a pair of double-doubles and led all Retrievers with a combined 30 kills and 31 digs as UMBC took three of four sets in its weekend opener against Liberty (25-17, 24-26, 25-18, 25-23) and battled back to earn the five-set victory versus Georgetown (25-18, 22-25, 25-27, 25-21, 15-10) inside WVU Coliseum.
The reigning America East Setter of the Week Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary's Academy), tallied 45 helpers versus Liberty and followed up with a season-best 55 assists against the Hoyas. Classmate Emily Witsaman (Medina, Ohio/Medina) added double-digit winners in both sets, tallying 12 versus the Flames and 15 against Georgetown.
With Liberty (1-11) out to a 5-2 advantage in the opener, UMBC rattled off 11 of the next 13 points, including seven straight, to jump out in front 13-7, a lead it would not relinquish in the set. The Flames would trim their deficit down to four, 15-11, but Witsaman and Goc would respond with three consecutive kills. Liberty would try for one final push in the frame on a pair of kills and a block from Kendle Rollins, but Witsaman would again start the Retrievers' rally with one of her five kills in the set, as UMBC would go on to score seven of the final nine points in a 25-17 opening set victory.
In a back and forth second frame, UMBC looked to be in a good position to take a two set lead over Liberty, as the Retrievers found themselves up 24-21 following a block from McIntyre and sophomore Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech), however, the Flames closed out the set with five straight points for the 26-24 win.
UMBC would respond in the third frame, opening up the set with a 7-2 advantage, with four different Retrievers recording kills during the span. With the Flames within three points, UMBC would claim six of the next seven, including two of Goc's six spikes in the set. The black and gold would roll on to a 25-18 victory.
UMBC spotted Liberty the first seven points in the final set of the match before a Witsaman kill got the Retrievers on the board. The Flames would go on to take a 10-3 lead, but Mlemchukwu would get the black and gold going, contributing a trio of winners and adding a solo block to bring UMBC back within four, at 12-8. Liberty tried desperately to preserve its lead, but attacking errors plagued the Flames, allowing the Retrievers to jump out in front 22-20.
Liberty would not go down without a fight, battling back to tie the contest at 22-all. Following a Goc spike and a Flames' attack error, LU's Monica Johnson would again bring Liberty within one, at 24-23, but sophomore Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) would put the match away with her 12th kill.
In the Retrievers' second match of the day, Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) matched her season-best with 25 digs, while Goc added a season-best 21 digs to go along with a match-best 17 kills.
The Retrievers allowed Georgetown to get out to a 5-1 lead in the opener versus the Hoyas, but recovered to knot things up at seven apiece. UMBC would hold the Hoyas to a .050 hitting percentage in the frame and would allow them to post back-to-back points just once more in the set en route to capturing a 25-18 victory.
UMBC squandered a 5-1 lead in the second set, allowing the Hoyas to record six straight points, to place the Retrievers in a deficit it would not be able to erase. Later in the frame, UMBC would rally after being down 23-16, coming within two at 24-22, but it was not enough as GU would claim the 25-22 win to even things up at one set apiece.
Georgetown would gain control of the third set, taking a 13-7 advantage over the Retrievers, but UMBC would stick around, cutting its deficit to three, 15-12, after a kill from newcomer Elise Adamson (Bel Air, Md./John Carroll) and a service ace from Paige Miller (Reading, Pa./Schuykill Valley). Later in the set, the Retrievers would score five consecutive points to take a 25-24 advantage, but couldn't put the set-winner down, allowing GU to score the final three points for the 27-25 victory.
With the set tied at 17, the black and gold would finally force some separation, tallying three consecutive points to pull out in front 20-17. Although Georgetown was able to pull within one, UMBC would score four of the final five points of the fourth frame to force a fifth and deciding set.
Walker and Witsaman combined for the first three points of the final set for the Retrievers, but the Hoyas were able to respond to knot it up at three apiece. With the set tied at four, Mlemchukwu's kill would give UMBC the lead for good as the black and gold would cruise to a 15-10 deciding set victory.
UMBC concludes the Gold and Blue Players Challenge hosted by West Virginia University with a 1 p.m. matchup against the host Mountaineers on Sunday, Sept. 21 at WVU Coliseum.