Mirabella Records Career-High 26 Kills As Volleyball Edges St. Francis Brooklyn In Five Sets

Mirabella Records Career-High 26 Kills As Volleyball Edges St. Francis Brooklyn In Five Sets

Radford, Va. – Junior Abbie Mirabella (Hockessin, Del./St. Mark's) carried the offense with a career-high 26 kills, including two crucial ones in the fifth set to fight off match point, as the UMBC volleyball team defeated St. Francis Brooklyn 3-2 (18-25, 25-10, 25-11, 15-25, 16-14) on Saturday afternoon at the Radford/Virginia Tech Invitational.

The Retrievers (2-0) found themselves facing match point in the fifth set, down 14-13, when Mirabella (who hit .305 in the match and added 10 digs) notched back-to-back kills before fellow Delaware native Emily Panchak (Wilmington/Concord/Wichita State) added the game-clinching kill. The red-shirt freshman finished with nine kills and four aces of her own (no errors and a .450 hitting percentage).
"We showed grit and perseverance, especially in that last set. I am really happy with how we rebounded from our first set," head coach Ian Blanchard. "I was so happy with how we bounced back. In the fifth set…I was so happy with how we came back, and stayed confident."
Mirabella's previous career high for kills in a match was 17, set back in 2014 against Weber State, but injuries limited her to 30 total in 2015. Now, the junior's already posted 42 kills in the first two match this season.
"Abbie had another fantastic match," Blanchard said. "She is playing fearless volleyball."
The Retrievers fell behind quickly, as the Terriers jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the first set. UMBC would battle back and close the gap to four midway through, but St. Francis (1-2) pulled away for a 25-18 victory.
The second set much different as the Retrievers used an early 11-1 run to jump ahead, and they rolled to the 25-10 victory.
UMBC turned in a dominant performance in the third set. The offense hit .750 with 19 kills and only one error en route to a 25-11 victory. The Terriers responded with a 10-point win in the fourth set to force the match into the deciding fifth set.
Red-shirt sophomore setter Claudia Lopez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico/Academia Maria Reina) had 45 assists to go with 10 digs, while classmate Kristin Watson (Bowie, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt) paced the defense with 23 digs.
Freshmen Brooke Hayden (Mt. Airy, Md./Linganore) and Lauren Mortimer (Queen Anne's, Md./Queen Anne's) collected eight kills and five kills, respectively, while senior Zoya Trendafilova (Sofia, Bulgaria/Elisaveta Bagryana) added seven kills of her own.
"Kristin Watson played exceptionally, she was very steady and played well defensively. I thought Claudia distributed the ball well, while Panchak and Mortimer played well." Blanchard said. "Also, Zoya did very well coming off the bench for us. We have some things we need to work on and improve as we have a lot of young athletes, but It was good overall team win for us."
UMBC is back in action tonight at 7 p.m. at Virginia Tech. The match will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3.