WASHINGTON, D.C. – UMBC volleyball's rookie Makenzie Morgen (Appleton, Wisc./Appleton) combined for 30 kills and 11 digs on Saturday, but the Retrievers dropped a pair of contests on day two at the AU Volleyball Classic, falling to American, 3-0, and William & Mary 3-2.
The Retrievers (6-7) fell in three straight sets in their first match of the day against host American, but UMBC battled throughout the second, eliminating a one set deficit by picking up victories on the second and third set. The Retrievers held an 18-19 lead in the fourth set, but three straight attacking errors gave William & Mary the edge it needed to send the match into a fifth set. Despite trailing 10-5 in the deciding set, UMBC battled back to pull within one, 13-12, but the Tribe was able to hold off the Retrievers for the win.
UMBC senior Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) registered a match-best 20 kills against William & Mary, adding six blocks and four digs. Morgen finished in 17 kills and nine digs, while junior Zoya Trendafilova (Sofia, Bulgaria/Elisaveta Bagryana) chipped in 15 kills.
"I am excited about the effort the team made," said head coach Ian Blanchard. "Claudia Lopez set very well against William & Mary and American. Sherelle Walker had strong games at the net versus both opponents. I don't think we are even close to how good we can be and I look forward to getting back into the gym with the team on Monday as we begin preparing for our conference season."
The Retrievers dropped their first match of the day, 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-18) to American. Morgen finished with a match-best 13 kills, while Trendafilova added nine.
Morgen helped UMBC jump out in front, 7-3, in the first set, but the Eagles responded with 11 of the next 13 points to take a 14-9 lead. Morgan and Trendafilova each registered five kills in the opening set, but American picked up the 25-17 victory in set one.
The Retrievers and Eagles traded points early in the second set, but AU used five consecutive points to open up a 10-4 lead. UMBC cut into the deficit, pulling within two, 12-10, but American outscored the Retrievers 13-3 in the remainder of the set for a 25-13 victory with a .524 hitting percentage.
UMBC once again kept things close in the earlier part of the third set, coming within two, 10-8, following an attack error from AU's Allison Cappellino, but American once again used a spurt by taking nine of the next 10 points to extend its lead to 19-9. Aleksandra Kazala finished with a team-best 11 kills on the day, four of which came in the final set of the match to help the Eagles to a 25-18 victory.
UMBC's red-shirt freshman Claudia Lopez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico/Academia Maria Reina) recorded 25 assists in the three sets, while senior Paige Miller (Reading, Pa./Schuylkill Valley) and freshman Carola De Jesus (San Jan, Puerto Rico/Academia Maria Reina) chipped in five digs apiece.
In match two of the afternoon, the Retrievers opened up a 6-4 lead behind a Morgen service ace, but the Tribe took advantage of UMBC's attack errors to take an 11-7 lead. Trendafilova continued to fight for the Retrievers, recording four straight of the Retrievers' kills to bring UMBC within three, 19-16. Despite Tredafilova's seven kills in the opening set of the match, the Tribe completed the 25-19 victory.
The Retrievers claimed their first set of the afternoon, defeating William & Mary, 25-20, in the second set after holding the Tribe to a .051 hitting percentage. With the set tied at 10, UMBC received contributions from all over to storm out in front 23-15. UMBC sophomore Marissa Duncan (Ellicott City, Md./Mt. Hebron) picked up three of her eight block assists during the second set.
Morgen and Walker shined in the third set for the Retrievers, combining for 11 kills, four digs and two block assists. UMBC held an advantage throughout a majority of the set before the Tribe's Heather Pippus and Paige Humphrey helped W&M pick up the 20-17 lead. Trendafilova used a kill and a service ace to get the Retrievers back on track and Morgen finished out the set with a kill and a service ace to give UMBC a 26-24 victory.
"I thought we competed hard throughout the tournament," said Blanchard. "We were missing some key people from our lineup, but the absence of those athletes did not deter our team from playing hard throughout the tournament. I am proud of our team's resilience."
UMBC returns to action on Tuesday, Sept. 22 when the Retrievers close out the non-conference schedule against La Salle at 7 p.m. inside the RAC Arena.