BALTIMORE – Claudia Lopez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico), Abbie Mirabella (Hockessin, Del.), and Ashley Ramos (Orlando, Fla.) have committed to play volleyball at UMBC for the Retrievers, starting in the fall of 2014, head coach Ian Blanchard announced on Wednesday.
"All three of these athletes bring a tremendous amount of experience and they are all extremely competitive," said Blanchard, who just completed his ninth season in charge of the Retrievers. "They bring a nice blend of skill and athleticism and I look forward to them joining our team."
Lopez, a two-time Puerto Rico High School Athletic Alliance (PRHSAA) All-Star, led Academia Maria Reina (AMR) to a second-place finish in the PRHSAA league while also capturing two invitational tournament titles. After AMR won the Academia Maria Reina Invitational in 2012, the 5-6 setter was named the tournament Most Valuable Player. In addition, Lopez was named the Puerto Rico High School Player of the Week by Ondo Deportiva.
"She comes from a great sports family and is great leader," Blanchard said. "She is relentless and competitive, and has a great toughness about her, which I really think a setter needs to have."
Lopez also played at the highest level in Puerto Rico, competing with the Puerto Rico Junior National Team from 2012-13. A versatile athlete, Lopez also lettered in track and basketball at Academia Maria Reina.
Mirabella, a 6-0 outside hitter, was named the 2013 Delaware Player of the Year and led St. Mark's to the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) Volleyball semifinals this season, posting 29 kills and 11 digs in a three-set win over St. Elizabeth in the quarterfinals. Earlier in the season, she recorded a 40-kill match against rival Ursuline Academy. St. Mark's claimed the DIAA championship in each of Mirabella's first two seasons in 2010 and 2011.
"Abbie has been a stand-out player for the last few years and even though everyone is trying to stop her, she continues to score points," Blanchard remarked. "She's an excellent teammate, is very coachable, and has a tremendous skill set.
"She is a real point scorer and she's been able to produce even when the pressure is on."
In her four-year career with the Spartans, Mirabella has been named to the All-State First Team three times (2011, 2012, and 2013), in addition to garnering a spot on the Delaware Catholic Conference First Team each of the last three seasons after earning a slot on the Second Team as a freshman. In 2012, she was listed on the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Phenom List, and then was placed on the Under Armour 2013 All-American Watch List; the only player from Delaware to receive a mention.
Ramos, a 5-10 outside hitter, comes to Baltimore after a decorated high school and club career in both Orlando, Fla. and Puerto Rico. The outside hitter was twice named Liberty High's MVP and was honored on the All-Conference Team. In addition, she was named a top-ten prospect in the state of Florida by the Orlando Sentinel.
"I've been tracking her prep career for a while and we're excited to bring her to Baltimore," said Blanchard. "She plays for one of the top clubs in Florida, Orlando Volleyball Academy (OVA), and has really stood out."
Ramos competed for the U.S. Junior National Team from 2011-12 before receiving an invitation to play with the Puerto Rican National Team this year.
"She can really bring it. She's an explosive jumper and has an excellent all-around set of skills."
The UMBC volleyball team went 19-12 in 2013, recording its most wins since 2007 (20-12). In addition, the Retrievers recorded their highest win total (nine) since joining the America East in 2003 and after qualifying for their sixth straight conference tournament, advanced to the finals for the third time in 11 years.