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Volleyball Drops Hearbreaker to Defending League Champion Albany, 3-2
Emily Vandegrift led all players with 16 kills.
BALTIMORE- The young UMBC volleyball squad built a 2-0 lead, but America East defending league champion Albany rallied for a 3-2 league victory at the RAC Arena.
UMBC slipped to 11-7 overall and 1-2 in conference play, while Albany improved to 9-7, 3-0.
The Retrievers won the first two sets by identical 25-18 scores, but Albany bounced back to win sets 3 and 4, 25-19, 25-16. The Great Danes won the final three points of the match to capture set 5, 16-14.
UMBC was bolstered by the play of sophomore Emily Vandegrift (Leesburg, Va.) who had only played in 17 sets prior to the match. Vandergrift amassed a match-high 16 kills and hit .286 in five sets. Freshman Dalton Tolliver (Ortonville, Mich.) added 12 kills for UMBC, senior setter Allie Spaay (Kenosha, Wisc.) had 50 assists and 12 digs and sophomore Ali Loynachan (Whitby, Ont.) contributed 10 kills and 13 digs.
“The whole team played hard. We have to do a better job of being mentally tougher down the stretch of a match,” head coach Ian Blanchard said. “When you are playing against a team that is as good as Albany, if you make a couple of mistakes here and there, it is hard to rebound. Hopefully we (will) learn our lesson and all we can do now is to try to get better.”
Freshman Samantha Brostrom led Albany with 14 kills, while senior Laurie Gonzalez had a match-best 25 digs.
UMBC never trailed in the first two sets. Albany was within 19-17 in set one, but the Retrievers finished on a 6-1 run. The second set was tied at 9-9 before UMBC went on a 7-2 surge to take control and eventually head to the break with a 2-0 advantage.
Albany hit only .052 in the first two sets, but improved to .362 in sets 3 and 4 to tie the contest. UMBC never led in either set, but a combined block by Loynachan and junior Katie Kelly (Diamond Bar, Calif.) cut the deficit to 15-14 in the fourth set. But the Great Danes rattled off the next six points to send the match to a deciding set.
The Danes appeared to have that set under control, leading 12-9, but a Vandegrift had three of kills to spark a 5-1 run and give UMBC match point at 14-13. But Albany setter Brooke Stanley dumped a ball onto the UMBC side to tie the set and UMBC committed an attacking error on the ensuing serve. The Great Danes procured match point as Stanley and senior Casey Wright blocked a Vandegrift attack.
Both teams had 59 kills on the day- Albany hit .220 for the match, while UMBC was at .188.
The Great Danes have won ten straight in the series as the teams met for the first time since Albany defeated UMBC for the 2010 league title.
UMBC will compete on the road for the first time in league play next weekend when they visit Hartford (Oct. 7) and New Hampshire (Oct. 9).