The UMBC Volleyball team returns 12 players from last season's 14-win squad, including first-team all-conference middle blocker Paola Rojas, Co-Rookie of the Year Carmen Freeman, and two-time all-conference libero Kristin Watson. First-year head coach Cristina Robertson hopes to have the team use that experience to its advantage as it looks to improve upon its 2017 season in which it finished tied for fourth with eventual America East champion Stony Brook.
Coach Robertson's Season Outlook:
"We are excited to start the season. We have a great group of young women who worked extremely hard during the spring and preseason. We ended the spring on a high note and we are really looking forward to building upon that this fall and getting back into game action. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to lead this program and the amazing group of young women that comprise of it. They are very passionate and love being on the volleyball court. I believe one thing that sets us apart from our opponents is the fire and energy they bring on a daily basis. I am excited to provide them with a great experience, and help them become the best players and people they can be. I want them to be proud to be a part of our UMBC Volleyball family and represent this university. Our league is very competitive and I am excited to get to work. We have a great staff that is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the game of volleyball. All of us have tons of experience at different levels, which makes it easier for us to relate to the players on the team, and create a family-like atmosphere. I am grateful for this opportunity to work with them on a daily basis."
A New Home
The Retrievers have moved out of the RAC and will be playing in the brand new UMBC Event Center just across the street.
"The Event Center is an amazing facility for our program," said Robertson. "It's just a mind-blowing place, really. We have a state-of-art locker room, strength and conditioning center and sports medicine area. We are fortunate to be able to have these and a great support staff, as they will help build our program and provide a top-notch experience for our student-athletes."
An Early Challenge
UMBC will start the season with a tournament at No.6 Penn State, where they will open with Navy and end with Eastern Kentucky, with a match against the seven-time national champion host sandwiched in-between.
"We have a very challenging non-conference schedule, but that will prepare us for a tough America East slate. Playing opponents, like Penn State, Tulsa, James Madison and Ball State, that are nationally known and respected will give us experience that will be very valuable as we get later into the season."
Coach Robertson on:
"Our seniors provide great leadership, both on and off the court. It's not only their verbal leadership that's great, it's how they lead by example with their play on the court, interactions with teammates and performance in the classroom."
"We are returning our captain Wats (Kristin Watson), who is one of the top liberos in the country and one of the hardest workers I have ever known."
"Setter Krytsia Negrón is essentially our quarterback. She runs our offense efficiently and her decision making is vital to the success of our team."
"As a fifth year senior, Paola brings a lot of experience and passion to our team. Her hard work and attitude explain why she was first-team all conference last season."
"Taylor Alexander has had a great preseason and has really become a leader on the court"
A Passionate Group of Juniors and Sophomores
"A lot of leadership comes from our junior class. They are passionate and fiery group who work unbelievably hard to contribute to the success of our program."
"Our other captain, Franchesca Reed, has blossomed into an amazing leader on the court and in the classroom. She takes no days off, she treats every practice like it's a game."
"Brooke Hayden is very versatile on the court. She helps us on offense and defense. As a right side, she has been working really hard all preseason to improve."
"Taylor Dunn is a redshirt sophomore. Her pleasant nature and natural disposition makes her a team favorite and a good leader. She's running a fast offense and working really hard to get to know her hitters."
"Carmen is so versatile, it's easy to see why she was honored as America East Co-Rookie of the Year last season. She is a threat on both offense and defense, and teams have to gameplan a way just to try and slow her down"
"Becca Elrod, Elayna Williams and Nikiya Mitchell all had injury-riddled freshman campaigns, but showed promise when they did get on the court. Along with Colleen Boarman, they all have a very team-oriented attitude and are working hard to become the best that they can be."
Trio of Freshmen
"Our freshman class, Jamie Wood, Paige Krenik and Gabrielle Curran, has been doing a great job in adjusting to the college game. The upperclassmen have been a tremendous resource for them as they get acclimated to this level. They work extremely hard, which is why they fit in well with our team. They are eager and excited to compete."
The match against Navy will be at 5 pm on Friday, August 24. While the matches against Penn State and Eastern Kentucky will be at 10 am and 4 pm, respectively, the following day.
For the 2018 UMBC Volleyball Quick Facts CLICK HERE
For the entire 2018 schedule CLICK HERE
For 2017 stats CLICK HERE