DURHAM, N.H. – UMBC junior Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales) sent down a match-best 16 kills and picked up 11 digs for her ninth double-double of the season as UMBC swept Albany in three sets (25-19, 25-16, 25-16), Friday night in the America East semifinals at New Hampshire's Lundholm Gymnasium.
With the win, UMBC (19-11) advances to its first conference tournament final since 2010 where the Retrievers will take on regular season champion and tournament No. 1 seed UNH who defeated No. 4 seed Stony Brook in the second semifinal of the night.
"We had a good game plan and I think we executed it really well," ninth-year head coach Ian Blanchard said. "I'm really proud of the girls' efforts as they maintained their intensity through the match and I think they did a really good job of playing through the ebbs and flows."
Schmidt was the beneficiary of the setting from two-time America East Setter of the Year Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary's Academy) who handed out 33 helpers in the three sets. McIntyre also scooped up 12 digs for her tenth double-double of her senior campaign.
The Retriever backline was instrumental in holding Albany (9-19) to .110 hitting as freshman libero Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) recorded 16 digs and senior Hallie Carter (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) added ten digs.
UMBC outhit the Great Danes from the start, finishing with a .228 hitting efficiency and registering 47 kills to Albany's 31. Freshman Amy Hunter paced the Albany attack with 16 winners in the match while All-Conference First Team selection Samantha Brostrom (Ellicott City, Md.) was limited to just two put-aways.
Albany took the early advantage in the match, claiming a 7-4 lead in the first set following a kill by Mikala McCauley. UMBC got right back into it and ran off four straight points, the last on a winner by senior All-Conference honoree Emily Witsaman (Medina, Ohio/Medina), to retake the lead, 8-7. The teams were evenly matched for the next rotation until the Retrievers went on a decisive 5-0 lead to claim a 17-12 advantage, and never looked back. Senior Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) recorded the final two kills of the run and then Schmidt and Witsaman recorded multiple winners down the stretch as UMBC won the opening frame, 25-19.
In the second set, UMBC won the opening two points, and never allowed Albany to catch up en route to a 25-16 set win. The Black and Gold opened up a set-high eight-point lead, 19-11, following a 5-0 run punctuated by a kill from Goc who finished the match with eight winners. Schmidt recorded five put-aways in the frame while sophomore Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) sent down three in the set and six for the evening.
The final set was more of the same as the Retrievers dropped the first point, but never trailed again after winning the next four. UMBC steadily added on to its lead, building it to eight on multiple occasions before ending the match with a Goc service ace for a 25-16 set win.
- UMBC defeated Albany three times this season after claiming on three wins over the Great Danes in 25 previous matches.
- The Retrievers have now won four straight versus Albany after breaking a 13-match winning streak for the Great Danes in 2012.
- The win is UMBC's first in conference tournament play since 2010.
- UMBC was previously 0-4 versus Albany in tournament matches.