Volleyball Falls in Straight Sets at New Hampshire in Battle for First Place

Sophomore Krystal Mlemchukwu
Sophomore Krystal Mlemchukwu

DURHAM, N.H. – Attempting to pull even with New Hampshire at the top of the America East standings, the UMBC volleyball team dropped a straight set decision to the home-standing Wildcats (25-16, 25-23, 25-11), Friday evening at Lundholm Gymnasium.

Senior outside hitter Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) led the UMBC (16-10, 7-4 AE) attack with nine kills while picking up 15 digs and sophomore Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech) added seven winners. 

On the back row, freshman libero Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) recorded a match-best 18 digs in the losing effort.

For New Hampshire (15-12, 9-2 AE), Morgan Thatcher led all hitters with 12 put-aways while Destiny Tolliver was also in double figures, registering 11 kills against the Retrievers.  Setter Taylor Dunklau handed out 32 assists and helped the Wildcats out hit UMBC, .276-.138.

The hosts took the initiative from the start, claiming five of the first six points and forcing a UMBC timeout.  The Wildcats then took three more points for an 8-1 lead before the Retrievers could mount a comeback.  The visitors pulled back within five at 14-9 on one of five first-set kills by junior Hannah Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales), but it was not enough as UNH took the opening frame, 25-16.

The second set was tight throughout and particularly at the outset as the teams could not separate themselves by more than one point until New Hampshire ran off four straight points for a 10-7 lead.  The lead grew to five, 14-9, on a kill by Abby Brinkman, but UMBC would not go quietly.  Chipping away, the Retrievers drew back on terms at 19-19 on a Wildcat attack error.  Then, following a UNH timeout, UMBC took the lead behind a kill from Mlemchukwu.  Four straight Wildcat points reinstated their lead, 23-20, and they held the Retrievers at bay, claiming the second set, 25-23.

Out of the break New Hampshire reeled off five straight points after dropping the initial rally for a 5-1 lead, and never looked back.  The Wildcats hit .381 in the final frame and held the Retrievers to an even .000 hitting efficiency in claiming the match with a 25-11 set win.

UMBC now heads south across the state line to take on UMass Lowell in a Sunday morning contest.  The Retrievers and River Hawks are scheduled to take the floor at Costello Athletic Center at 11:00 a.m.