Watson and Lopez Shine as Volleyball Splits on Final Day of Maryland Invite

Watson and Lopez Shine as Volleyball Splits on Final Day of Maryland Invite

College Park, Md. -- Red-shirt junior setter Claudia Lopez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico/Academia Maria Reina) had a match high 56 assists, while freshman outside hitter Carmen Freeman (Memphis, Tenn./St. Mary's) added 16 kills, as the UMBC Volleyball team (1-2) downed Temple (1-1) in four sets (23-25, 28-26, 28-26, 25-20) to pick up their first win of the 2017 season on Saturday afternoon at the Maryland Invite tournament.

Three other Retrievers attributed double digit kills, with Kristin Watson (Bowie, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt) leading the team in digs with 28. Defensively, Franchesca Reed (Aurora, Md./Grand View) held UMBC together while earning six blocks.

"It was a very good opening weekend for us, " said head coach Ian Blanchard "We played tough against Maryland, really well against Temple and looked a little tired physically and emotionally after the hard fought win vs Temple...We showed outstanding resilience and competitive fire, especially in the first two matches. We will learn how to recover from tough,  emotional matches and rebound more quickly, but I am really proud of this team."

The first set for the Retrievers continued from their previous match against Maryland the night before, as it was tight for the whole set. After being down 3-0 to begin the set, UMBC fought back to tie it up and then the set would go back and forth with each team giving up a point but getting it right back. It would be 21-21 before a run would occur, where Temple would score back to back points in between Retriever points to take the first set 25-23.

The second set would start out well for UMBC as it started off on a 7-0 run and would eventually have a 10-2 lead. Temple would bring the deficit down to four, making the score 12-8. The Retrievers would put together another run to go up 17-10, then 21-14, before the Owls would string together another run to tie the set at 24. The two teams would return points to each other, before back-to-back kills by Freeman would give UMBC the set at 28-26.

The third set would continue the trend of close sets for the Retrievers, as no team took more than a two point lead at any point. Each team would fight-off a set point before Freeman once again had the final kill to give UMBC a 28-26 win.

Temple led for a good portion of the fourth set, but UMBC went on a run to pull away late and won the set and match on an Elayna WIlliams (Ellicott City, Md./Mt.Hebron) kill.

UMBC returned to the court 50 minutes later to take on Northeastern (1-2), but fell in four sets (24-26, 25-21, 25-14, 25-16)

The Retrievers took the tightly contested first set with Northeastern. Taylor Dunn (Virginia Beach, Va./Frank W. Lox) picking up six digs and adding 10 assists in her first collegiate start. Watson continued the defense that earned her America East Defensive Player of the Year last season, adding another seven digs in the first set. No team would go ahead by more than two during the whole set, with UMBC finishing it off 26-24 on a Lauren Mortimer (Queen Anne's, Md./Queen Anne's) kill.

Northeastern would get out to an early lead in the second set, but UMBC would fight back to tie up at 17. However, the Huskies would go on a 8-4 run to take the second set, 25-21. Northeastern continued the momentum into the third set, taking a big lead early and never looking back en route to a 25-14 victory. The Huskies led wire-to-wire in the fourth set to secure the victory.

Dunn finished with 31 assists and 17 digs, while Watson finished with 19 digs. Paola Rojas led the Retrievers (San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico/Notre Dame) with 10 kills.

UMBC travels to fifth-ranked Nebraska for the Ameritas Player;s Challenge next weekend. The Retrievers will face the Huskers and Saint Mary's College on Friday, and Oral Roberts on Saturday.