Durham, NH -- Redshirt junior Paola Rojas (San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico / Notre Dame) had a career-high 22 kills on a .486 hitting percentage to lead the visiting UMBC Volleyball team (11-7, 3-1) to a five-set victory (25-21, 19-25, 27-25, 23-25, 15-12) over host New Hampshire (8-11, 3-2) on Friday night.
The win ended the Wildcats streak of 11 consecutive conference home wins, dating back to 2015, and was undefeated at home in five matches so far this season. UNH, the four-time defending America East champions and 2017 preseason favorite, had also won 11 straight overall and eight straight at home against UMBC, including the postseason.
"I am incredibly proud of the team," said head coach Ian Blanchard "We had so many obstacles that we had to overcome this week and during the match itself, but the team continues to play with poise, tremendous resiliency and competitiveness. Matches like tonight shows that this team plays for each other and they do not give up on one another."
Rojas smashed her previous career best of 14 kills, set just last month, while freshman Elayna Williams (Ellicott City, Md./Mt.Hebron) set career highs in kills (13) and blocks (four) in just her second ever start. Classmate Carmen Freeman (Memphis, Tenn./St.Mary's) notched her fifth double-double of the season with 10 kills and 10 digs.
Junior libero Kristin Watson (Bowie, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt) contributed 27 digs, while classmate Krytsia Negron (San Juan, Puerto Rico / Colegio Adianez) had a season-high 52 assists. UMBC received a strong performance in the middle as sophomore Franchesca Reed (Aurora Colo./Grand View) tallied 10 kills and five blocks, and senior captain Marissa Duncan (Ellicott City, Md./Mt.Hebron) added five kills and three blocks.
The Retrievers dominated the first set, hitting .440 with just a single error, while holding UNH to a .188 clip. After the hosts took the second set, UMBC found itself down 15-10 midway through the third. After battling back to tie it at 15, the Wildcats again pushed ahead by five, 21-16, and then eventually led 24-20. UMBC, however, fought off four consecutive set points and eventually took a 25-24 lead. UNH would tie it, but the Retrievers would win the final three points of the set to go up 2-1 in the match.
The fourth set was a back-and-forth affair as the teams remained tight throughout. UMBC held a late 21-19 lead, but the hosts would take the next four points to go up 23-21. The Retrievers tied it up at 23, only to see UNH get the next two points to force a deciding fifth set.
The fifth set started off tight, but a 5-0 Wildcat run put them up 8-5 as the teams switched sides. The UNH lead would grow to 11-7,but UMBC would again rally, as they used 6-0 run to go up by two. After an attack error cut the lead to 13-12, Rojas got a kill and the Wildcats made an attack error to give the Retrievers the victory.
UMBC continues the weekend road swing with a noon match on Sunday at UMass Lowell.