ALBANY-- Kristin Watson (Bowie, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt) tied a program record with 41 digs, while Zoya Trendafilova (Sofia, Bulgaria/Elisaveta Bagryana) set career bests in kills (23) and digs (15) as the UMBC Volleyball team defeated first-place Albany in five sets (19-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-20, 15-7) on Sunday afternoon in New York.
With the victory, the Retrievers (16-7, 7-3) moved into third place in the America East, just a game behind idle New Hampshire (8-2). UMBC had clinched a spot in the four-team conference tournament for the seventh time in nine seasons with Friday's win at Binghamton along with Stony Brook's loss to Albany (15-8, 9-2).
UMBC won both road matchups at Binghamton and Albany for the first time in the 14 years -- both this weekend -- it has have been in the America East, and the Retrievers finished with a 5-1 record on the road in conference play.
"It was another very good win for us as Albany is a difficult place to play and win," said head coach Ian Blanchard. "We are playing some of our best volleyball of the season as we get closer to the playoffs."
Sophomore Krytsia Negron (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Colegio Adianez) added a career-high 56 assists to pair with eight digs, while freshman Franchesca Reed (Aurora, Col./Grand View) added a career-high 12 kills in addition to five blocks. Both helped Trendafilova and Watson push UMBC to another huge road victory.
"Zoya once again came up with a huge game for us, and I am not surprised as she has been our most consistent and best offensive threat the entire season," said Blanchard. "Watson was incredible today, and she has been phenomenal all season long. Also, Krytsia distributed the ball very effectively especially in the last two sets."
Junior outside hitter Ashley Ramos (Orlando, Fla./Liberty/Monroe JC) was the third Retriever to finish with double-digit kills, posting 13 kills and five digs. Middle blockers Megi Dervishi (Tirane, Albania / Mesonjetorja XXI/American) and Marissa Duncan (Ellicott City, Md. /Mount Hebron) each tallied seven kills while adding three and five blocks, respectively.
"Ashley Ramos played very well on the outside today," Blanchard said. "Marissa Duncan was our unsung hero this afternoon, and while her numbers don't jump off the stat sheet, she was almost always in the right place defensively and blocking. She also made some crucial kills down the stretch."
Albany took the first set by ending on a 7-0 run before UMBC won the second set with its own big run after the match was tied at 12. The Great Danes led nearly the entire third set, while the Retrievers were in front most of the fourth set and hit .353 en route to forcing a tie-breaking fifth set. UMBC completely dominated the fifth set, hitting .409 with nine kills and no errors, while holding Albany to a -.040 hitting percentage.
The Retrievers close out the regular season by hosting UMass Lowell and Hartford next Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively. Both matches will be streamed on UMBCRetrievers.TV.