Baltimore, MD – The UMBC Volleyball team swept Howard (25-19, 27-25, 25-21) in its final non-conference home match on Tuesday night at the RAC.
The Retrievers (8-6) received strong performances from outside hitters Abbie Mirabella (Hockessin, Del./St. Mark's), Carmen Freeman (Memphis, Tenn./St. Mary's), and Paola Rojas (San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico/Notre Dame). Both Mirabella and Freeman each had a team-high 10 kills, while Rojas added nine kills on .304 hitting.
Libero Kristin Watson (Bowie, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt) and setter Krytsia Negron (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Colegio Adianez) continued their strong play with a match-high 24 digs from Watson and a match-best 36 assists from Negron.
"When we pass like we did tonight. we are a difficult team to beat because we can really balance out our offense," said head coach Ian Blanchard "Paola Rojas, Krytsia Negron, and Kristin Watson obviously had very strong performances that I was equally impressed by the poise other outside hitters Abbie Mirabella and Carmen Freeman. Taylor Alexander and Brooke Hayden came in and gave us very strong serve receive."
The opening set featured a lead no bigger than three until the Retrievers went on a 5-0 run, led by Freeman with a kill and an ace, to take a 19-15 lead. The Bison (2-12) would then bring the set to within one after at 20-19. A 4-0 UMBC to run to close out the set would give them the first set.
The second set provided back-and-forth action, with both teams trading runs throughout. The Retrievers fell down 3-0, but responded with a 4-0 run, and eventually had a 14-9 lead thanks to an 8-2 run which featured kills from Negron, Rojas, Mirabella, and Brooke Hayden (Mt. Airy, Md./Linganore).
The Bison would battle back to have set point at 24-22, but UMBC would hold them off to take five of the final six points and take the set 27-25.
The Bison would take a 2-0 lead to start off the third set, and would hold a 13-12 lead midway through, but the Retrievers put together a decisive 8-2 run to give them the lead, which they would not relinquish. Mirabella provided three kills during run, and Franchesca Reed (Aurora, Colo./Grand View) provided a kill as well.
Howard would close the gap at 22-21, however, UMBC recorded the final three points of the night to secure the victory.
"As coaches, we always collaborate on our game plan, and any information we want to provide the team," said Blanchard "I think Katelyn and Christian did an outstanding job in providing our team the right information and just as importantly the right amount information to help the team be at its most successful,"
The Retrievers will begin America East play on Friday at Hartford at 7 p.m. UMBC then has off until Sunday, October 1st when they travel to Long Island to face Stony Brook at 1 p.m.
Earlier in the day, Freeman was named America East Rookie of the Week for the second straight week. Freeman recorded three double-doubles in last weekend's GW Tournament, and was named MVP of the tournament, averaging 12.3 kills and 14.6 digs.