UMBC Volleyball Races Past Stony Brook to Win America East Opener in Four Sets

Senior Rebecca Garrigues
Senior Rebecca Garrigues

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BALTIMORE – UMBC sophomore Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) recorded a season-best 17 kills and senior setter Rebecca Garrigues (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) stepped into the lineup and handed out a career-high 36 assists as the UMBC volleyball team overcame a first set defeat to down Stony Brook in four sets (26-28, 25-14, 25-20, 25-21), Friday night at the RAC Arena in both teams' America East opener.

"This was not our best performance of the year, but we were able to grind out a win," said head coach Ian Blanchard.  "We were a little bit better than Stony Brook in regards to making errors and I think that was the difference."

Sophomore Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales) and senior Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) each registered a double-double in kills and digs for UMBC (10-6, 1-0 AE), who won at home for the fifth straight time.  Goc's 19 digs paced the Retrievers while freshman libero Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) scooped up 13 digs.

Kaitlin Costello sent down 11 kills for Stony Brook (5-11, 0-1 AE) who was held to .068 hitting on the evening.  UMBC also out dug the Seawolves, 79-59, in addition to recording 12 blocks to SBU's eight.

The visitors started brightly, gaining a 3-0 lead on two services aces and a kill by Hannah Dolan.  The lead was short-lived, however, as UMBC ripped off 11 of the next 14 points to gain an 11-6 advantage.  The Retrievers looked poised to take the opening set and led 20-16 on a kill by Goc, but Stony Brook staved off a set point and eventually claimed the opener, 28-26.

The second set was a back-and-forth affair to start as the squads traded the lead three times and were tied on seven occasions.  At 8-8, though, UMBC won 11 of the next 14 rallies to build a 19-11 cushion.  Stony Brook won back-to-back points, but then the Retrievers got a service error, two Walker kills, a Garrigues ace, and a Schmidt put-away for a 24-13 lead.  Following a UMBC attack error, the Retrievers leveled the match on a block from Schmidt and sophomore Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech) for a 25-14 set win.

Following the intermission, UMBC erased a 2-0 deficit and rattled off six straight for an early 6-2 lead.  The Retrievers would not trail in the set, though the Seawolves drew within one at 21-20, and won going away, 25-20, behind the serving of junior Tanaeri Santiago (Bayamon, Puerto Rico/American Military Academy).

In the fourth set, the Black and Gold once again jumped out to an early lead, this time taking an 8-4 advantage on another kill from Walker.  Stony Brook hung around, however, and knotted the frame at 13-13 and then again at 17-17.  Five straight Retriever points squashed the run and provided a 22-17 lead, one the hosts would not relinquish.  On set point at 24-21, Schmidt sent down one last winner to give UMBC the win, 25-21.

UMBC now has the remainder of the weekend off before hosting league newcomer UMass Lowell next Friday at the RAC Arena.  The Retrievers then close out the three-match homestand with a Sunday matinee contest against New Hampshire.

Dawg Bites                                                                                                                                                                   

-          UMBC has now won three straight versus Stony Brook to knot the all-time series, 11-11.

-          The Retrievers broke a three-year losing streak in conference openers.  UMBC last won its first America East contest in 2009 with a four-set victory over Hartford.

-          Garrigues' previous high for assists was 35 which she set against Sacred Heart as a freshman on Sept. 11, 2010.