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Volleyball Opens 2012 Campaign at Battle at the Bay on Friday
Alii Goc led the Retrievers with 341 digs in 2011
BALTIMORE – The UMBC volleyball team opens its 2012 schedule this weekend at the two-day Battle at the Bay hosted by cross-town rival Morgan State. The Retrievers begin play on Friday with a contest against local rival Towson at noon before taking on Coppin State at 5 p.m. at Hill Field House. On Saturday, UMBC wraps up the opening weekend by facing tournament host Morgan State at 10 a.m. followed by BIG EAST foe St. John’s at 5:30 p.m.
Scouting the Retrievers
Coming off of a school-record fourth straight appearance in the America East Tournament, the Retrievers look to build upon that and achieve the ultimate goal – win a conference title and gain a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
UMBC has plenty of talent to build off of, despite losing setter Allie Spaay and middle blocker Iman Kennedy to graduation. Four starters from last year’s team return including 2011 All-Rookie team selection Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales) and 2010 All-Rookie members Hallie Carter (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) and Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario), now juniors.
The Retrievers also have plenty of experience to rely on beginning with their three captains – seniors Ali Loynachan (Whitby, Ontario/Sinclair) and Katie Kelly (Diamond Bar, Calif./Diamond Bar), and Carter. In her first three years, Loynachan has turned into one of the Retrievers’ most versatile players setting career-highs in kills (152), assists (72), and blocks (58) a year ago. Carter, an outside hitter, proved her wide skill set in 2011 as well moving to a more defensive role in the middle of the season and finished seventh in the America East with 323 digs.
Inside the Series
The Retrievers’ opening match continues the team’s longest running rivalry as UMBC will take the court against Towson for the 70st time. In the series which dates back to 1973, the Tigers lead the the Retrievers, 37-32-1, and have won the last three meetings between the two squads.
The contest not only has historical significance, but also current meaning as two former Mount de Sales teammates and Baltimore Sun Players of the Year will take the court opposite one another. UMBC sophomore outside hitter Hannah Schmidt, the 2010 award winner, had an outstanding freshman campaign ranking second on the team and seventh in the America East with 234 kills, earning a spot on the conference All-Rookie squad. Towson’s Katy Buck, the 2009 winner, meanwhile has lived up to her billing as she was selected to the CAA All-Rookie team in 2010 before being named the conference Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2011.
UMBC’s second match pits the Retrievers against another common foe, tournament host Morgan State. The Retrievers and Bears have met 40 times since 1974 with the Black and Gold extending its lead in the series to 38-2 with five straight victories against its Baltimore rival.
The two teams met a little less than a year ago at last season’s Battle of Baltimore, also hosted by Morgan State. In that match, Carter recorded a double-double with 10 kills and 18 digs while Schmidt led the Retrievers with a team-high 12 kills as UMBC swept Morgan State, 3-0.
Though separated by less than ten miles, UMBC and Coppin State have met just 13 times on the volleyball court with the Retrievers posting a 12-0-1 record against the Eagles. The two squads also met at last year’s early season tournament where Carter and Schmidt both registered 13 kills en route to a UMBC sweep.
Compared to its series with the other schools, UMBC has little history against St. John’s, taking on the Red Storm just three times, all in consecutive years from 1996-1998. In the series, the New Yorkers won the first two contests, conceding only one game, but UMBC rallied with a 3-1 victory of its own in 1998.