West Hartford, Conn.—The UMBC volleyball team picked up their first America East victory with a thrilling 3-2 win at Hartford on Sunday. The Retrievers got a huge game from Senior Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales), who has 19 kills in the contest, moving her into ninth place in career kills (968). UMBC moves to 7-8, 1-1 AE on the year.
Redshirt junior Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech) got the game started with a kill to get things rolling. The Hawks used a 5-0 run midway through the first, to pull ahead 13-7. Hartford never looked back, as they took command of the first set, winning 25-13.
The Retrievers bounced back in set two, jumping ahead 7-4 after a trio of kills from freshman Paola Rojas (San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico/Notre Dame), junior Paige Miller (Reading, Pa./Schuylkill Valley) and Schmidt forcing a Hawks timeout. Sophomore Zoya Trendafilova (Sofia, Bulgaria/Elisaveta Bagryana) took control, laying down two winners to increase the lead to 12-6. From there the Retrievers held the Hawks at bay, winning the second stanza, 25-18.
Hartford and UMBC went back and forth in the third, with neither team gaining an advantage. The Hawks took a slim 14-11 lead, which was more than enough in the set. Hartford put away the Retrievers late, with a 25-18 win. UMBC would continue the trend in the fourth, as neither team could gain an advantage early. UMBC pulled ahead thanks in part to a 3-0 run off kills from Rojas and Trendafilova. However, Hartford would answer back, forcing a 24-24 tie after a Jackie Tamburri kill. The Retrievers would hold on, winning 26-24, forcing a decisive game five.
In the final stanza, UMBC jumped on the Hawks early, forcing a Hartford timeout leading 9-5. Hartford made it close, cutting the deficit to 12-11, forcing coach Blanchard to use a timeout. From there, UMBC would close out the match and the set with a Schmidt kill, winning 15-13 and the match 3-2.
"This was a big team win today in a tough environment," coach Blanchard said about his teams performance. "We showed a lot of grit, and there is no quit in this team. I am proud of how they fought and made the big plays down the stretch."
Schmidt paced the team with 19 kills. Rojas continued her hot streak, laying down nine winners for the Retrievers, adding six digs and four blocks. Miller poured in 44 assists for UMBC, as they move to 7-8, 1-1 AE on the year.
The Retrievers return to the court next Friday and Sunday at the RAC. UMBC takes on UMass Lowell on Friday, October 10 (5:00 p.m.), and New Hampshire on Sunday, October 12 (1:00 p.m.) as part of Homecoming Weekend.