Vestal, N.Y. -- The UMBC Volleyball team (15-7, 6-3) clinched a spot in the America East tournament for the first time in three years with a four-set (26-24, 25-23, 16-25, 25-21) victory over Binghamton -- coupled with a Stony Brook loss to Albany -- on Friday night.
Only four teams make the conference tournament. Albany sits in first place at 9-1 in the conference with New Hampshire (7-2), UMBC (6-3) and Binghamton (6-4) following behind. Stony Brook fell to 2-7 with the loss so the best it can do is go 5-7, and the Retrievers and Binghamton already are at six victories -- so all four tournament teams are set. The only question is the seeding.
This was the first victory for UMBC at Binghamton since 2011, and it broke a two-match losing streak and could not have come at a better time.
"I'm obviously super proud of this team," head coach Ian Blanchard said. "Huge effort tonight. Binghamton is a tough place to come into and win. They were arguably the hottest team in the conference coming into the match having won four straight, including wins over Albany and New Hampshire."
Zoya Trendafilova (Sofia, Bulgaria/Elisaveta Bagryana) led UMBC with a career-high 20 kills. Franchesca Reed (Aurora, Col./Grand View) added a career-high six blocks, and her nine kills was one short of her career high. Megi Dervishi (Tirane, Albania / Mesonjetorja XXI/American) also pitched in with eight kills.
Krytsia Negron (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Colegio Adianez) topped the Retrievers with 18 assists. Claudia Lopez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico/Academia Maria Reina) added 17 assists as the two setters did a good job of helping the UMBC offense go.
"We served really well, and this kept Binghamton out of sync throughout the match," Blanchard said.
The Retrievers pulled out tough victories in the first two sets that gave them control in the match. They scored the final two points in the first set to snap a 24-24 tie and win.
UMBC trailed through much of the second set before rallying. The Retrievers were down 19-14 before scoring seven of the next nine points to tie and later posted three in a row to win.
They fell behind 14-11 in the fourth set after losing the third before rallying late once again to win the final one and lock up the match.
"Just a great overall effort," Blanchard said.
The Retrievers will play their final road match of the season on Sunday versus Albany at 2 p.m. UMBC then finishes the regular season with two home matches next week.