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Binghamton Outlasts Volleyball in Five-Set America East Semifinal
Senior Ali Loynachan
ALBANY, N.Y. – Binghamton won nine straight points after falling behind 9-6 in the fifth and deciding set to come back and defeat the UMBC volleyball team in the first semifinal of the America East Championships. Set scores were 16-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-20, 15-9. The Retrievers close out the season at 15-15 overall after posting an 8-4 mark in conference play.
“We gave a great effort tonight, but Binghamton was just a little bit better,” said head coach Ian Blanchard. “It’s disappointing but this doesn’t take away from what we accomplished this season.”
America East Second Team All-Conference selection and All-Tournament member freshman Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquahannock) paced UMBC with 16 kills. Senior Ali Loynachan (Whitby, Ontario/Sinclair) recorded a double-double, her third of the year, with 10 kills and 11 digs, while freshman Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech) added 15 winners.
A trio of Retrievers, in addition to Loynachan, also picked up double-digit digs, led by sophomore Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales) who scooped up a team-best 18. Juniors Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) and Hallie Carter (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) added 17 and 14 digs, respectively.
Iva Partaleva’s match-best 21 kills fueled the Bearcats who advance to Saturday’s final against the winner of Albany and New Hampshire. Grace Vickers and Kristin Hovie added a combined 28 kills for Binghamton.
UMBC came out of the gate hot, claiming the first five points and nine of the first ten, the last of which came on a kill by Walker. Four straight Binghamton points cut the lead to 9-5, but the Bearcats could never get closer as UMBC won seven of the final eight points for a 25-15 opening frame win.
In the second set, the teams could not separate themselves, tying for the only three times in the set. With the score knotted for the final time at 5-5, Binghamton ran off eight consecutive points behind the serving of Megan Burgess. UMBC put together a late rally, turning a 22-15 deficit into just a one-point gap at 23-22 following a Schmidt kill. The Bearcats reset though and won the final two points to level the match at a set apiece.
The late rally proved to be a momentum shift as the Retrievers opened the third set by winning the first three points, and after two Binghamton points, four more for a 7-2 lead. UMBC never looked back, holding at least a three-point cushion at all times. Leading 22-19, the Retrievers took a 2-1 set lead by winning three of the final four points for a 25-20 third set win.
The fourth set was the most balanced of the match with the teams tying on 12 occasions and trading the lead five times. After Walker put the Retrievers ahead at 18-17, Binghamton knotted the set for the final time at 18-18 and went on to win seven of the next nine points and send the match to a decisive fifth set.
In the fifth set, UMBC looked to right itself quickly, earning six of the opening seven points and grab a 6-1 lead. Binghamton rebounded quickly, however, and strung together three straight to come with two at 6-4. At 7-6, Mlemchukwu put away two straight to open up a three-point gap, but Binghamton turned the match on its head with nine straight points to claim the match and move on to the final.
America East Co-Setter of the Year Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary’s Academy) finished the match with 47 assists, setting up six different Retrievers.
- UMBC now trails the all-time series with Binghamton 15-10.
- The Bearcats’ win levels the postseason series with each team now having won twice.
- UMBC was making its fifth-straight appearance in the America East Championships, a school record.
- Goc’s 17 digs brings her career total to 1,027, the tenth-highest total in school history.
- Loynachan’s double-double is UMBC’s 24th of the season.
- Mlemchukwu recorded two block assists to bring her season total to 88, the sixth most in UMBC history.