UMBC Downs Tulane, Falls to Coppin State on Opening Day of Wildcat Invitational

UMBC Downs Tulane, Falls to Coppin State on Opening Day of Wildcat Invitational

Tucson, Ariz.—The UMBC volleyball team kicked off their road swing with a win against Tulane (3-2), and a loss against Coppin State (2-3). UMBC moves to 5-6 on the year.

Game one saw the Retrievers win in thrilling fashion, 3-2, against the Green Wave of Tulane. UMBC got ahead 2-0, before Tulane rallied to tie the match at 2-2. The Retrievers won a thrilling set three, 15-10, thanks to a Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech) kill to seal the victory.

The opening set was a back and forth affair that saw each team trade points, before Zoya Trendafilova (Sofia, Bulgaria/Elisaveta Bagryana) laid down a service ace, and a Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) kill gave the Retrievers a 23-21 advantage. UMBC would close out set one, winning 25-22.

Set two opened up the same way, until a pair of Green Wave attack errors gave UMBC a slim 13-10 lead. The Retrievers would go on the offensive, as Walker and Mlemchukwu had several blocks, extending the lead to 16-11. Tulane would fight back, cutting the deficit to just two, before the Retrievers closed out the set, 25-21, taking a 2-0 lead.

Tulane came out firing in set three, jumping on the Retrievers early and taking the third stanza in convincing fashion, 25-13. Set four saw neither team give an inch. Each team took turns with the lead, but it was the Green Wave who struck last, winning set four 25-23 to tie it up at two apiece.

The final set followed the trend of the previous four sets, as each team spent turns with the lead. UMBC would push ahead thanks to a 5-0 run, fueled by a trio of Mlemchukwu kills. Krystal would put the final nail in the coffin, laying down a kill to take the set 15-10, and the match 3-2.

UMBC was led by Mlemchukwu and her 16 kills. Krystal added six blocks in the contest as well. Abbie Mirabella (Hockessin, Del./St. Mark's) added 12 kills and two service aces for the Retrievers. Walker and Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales) each chipped in seven kills, with Walker pouring in 12 total blocks.

"It is nice to fly 3,000 miles and come away in our first match with a victory," said coach Ian Blanchard. "I thought we got contributions from nearly every person on the team."

In the nightcap, UMBC lose a heart-breaking 3-2 match against Coppin State. The Retrievers fought to force a fifth set, but fell 15-13 in the final stanza.

Set one saw the Retrievers open up with a hard fought 25-22 win. Mlemchukwu had the finisher with a kill off a Paige Miller (Reading, Pa./Schuykill Valley) assist.  However, in the second and third, Coppin State fought back winning the two sets by score of 25-23 and 25-17.

Trailing 2-1, UMBC took command in a must win fourth set. The Retrievers went on a 3-0 run, thanks in part to a couple of Eagle attack errors. UMBC would take the fourth set, 25-18.

In the final stanza, each team went back and forth, not giving an inch. UMBC faced set point, but Hannah Schmidt laid down a winner to make it 14-13. However, the Eagles would come away with a point to win the set 15-13 and the match 3-2.

Mlemchukwu paced the Retrievers with 17 winners, one of four Retrievers in double figures. Schmidt had 11 kills, along with four service aces. Walker and Ivana Kostic (Belgrade, Serbia/Srednja Skola Grocka) each chipped in ten winners.

The Retrievers return to action against #20 Arizona tomorrow. The Retrievers and Wildcats square off at 3:30 p.m. est.