Albany, N.Y.—Junior Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech) laid down a career high 31 kills in a 3-2 win against Albany on Friday night. The Retrievers (9-9, 3-2 AE) fought back from down 2-1 to win the match in the final two sets.
It was a set of runs in the opening frame. Each team took turns with the lead, with the Retrievers jumping out to a 4-2 lead early on. Albany would answer back, going on a run to retake the lead at 12-10. The see-saw action would continue, but the Great Danes (6-12, 4-2 AE) would strike last, taking the opening frame 25-23.
The Retrievers came out swinging in the second, taking the lead early on, but as was the case in the first, Albany responded to take to lead. With UMBC leading 17-13, the Great Danes would go on a 5-0 run to take an 18-17 lead, forcing Coach Blanchard to take a timeout. The set would go back and forth late, and would be tied at 24-24, before Mlemchukwu laid down two of her 31 kills to tie the match at 1-1.
UMBC would be in for a fight in the third, as neither team gave an inch. Albany would answer ever y run that the Retrievers put together. UMBC would fight off two set points, thanks to kills from junior Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) and Mlemchukwu. However the Great Danes would take the set, 25-22 and lead the match 2-1.
The fourth stanza saw Albany race out in front 4-0 to lead things off, but in typical UMBC fashion, the Retrievers would not back down. Much like the previous sets, the fourth was a back and forth affair. UMBC saw their lead cut down to one at 20-19. Then it was time for the Retrievers to take control. UMBC got a service ace from Freshman Abbie Mirabella (Hockessin, Del./St. Mark's) and a pair of Walker kills to close the set on a 5-0 run, winning 25-19.
In the deciding set, UMBC put the pedal to the floor, taking an 8-3 lead thanks in part to a trio of kills from Walker and senior Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales). Albany would threaten, but UMBC staved off the rally to win the set 15-11, and the match 3-2.
"This was the best defense we have played all season," Blanchard said following the match. "This was a great bounce back match for us. We had a great week of practice and it was fun to watch our girls fight the way they did."
Mlemchukwu had a game and career high 31 kills for the Retrievers. The junior also recorded nine digs and two blocks. Walker and Schmidt also reached double digits in kills, with Walker laying down 17 and four blocks, and Schmidt recording 11 and 18 digs for her third straight double-double. Junior Paige Miller (Reading, Pa./Schuylkill Valley) and sophomore Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) also had career days, with Miller dishing out 57 helpers and Griffith digging out 41 balls.
The Retrievers are back in action on Sunday, October 19, when they head to Binghamton for a match with the Bearcats at 1:00 p.m.