Radford, Va. -- Junior Abbie Mirabella (Hockessin, Del./St.Mark's) powered a dominant offensive performance as the UMBC Volleyball team opened up 2016 with a sweep of Norfolk State (25-16, 25-17, 25-12) on the first day of the Radford/Virginia Tech Invitational on Friday afternoon.
Mirabella hit .433 and finished with 16 kills, one off her career high, five aces, four digs and an assist for UMBC (1-0). Freshmen Franchesca Reed (Aurora, Colo./Grand View), Emily Panchak (Wilmington, Del./Concord/Wichita State) and Brooke Hayden (Mt.Airy/Linganore), along with Junior transfer Ashley Ramos (Orlando, Fla./Liberty/Monroe JC) all excelled in their debut in the black and gold. Reed finished with six kills on .556 hitting, Panchak had five kills on .444 hitting, while Hayden racked up seven kills and four digs. Ramos put in a solid all-around effort, finishing with eight kills, two aces, three digs and an assist.
"It was a really nice team victory, and just a good way to start the season." said head coach Ian Blanchard "We served aggressively and I thought we also passed well. Obviously, Abbie had a monster game. She has a really nice ability to mix up her swings, she's a very unpredictable hitter. She just does so many things really well. Also, it was really nice to see our middles going, hitting at a really nice efficiency. It was great to see a whole bunch of newcomers all record their first NCAA kills."
The match started as a back-and-forth affair, with Norfolk State taking an early 5-4 lead. However, UMBC would pull away using a 10-0 run, capped off by consecutive aces from Carola De Jesus (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Academia Maria Reina), en route to 25-16 set victory. Mirabella finished the first set with four kills and Ramos, Hayden, and Panchak all contributed three kills. The Retrievers hit .310 in the first set, while Krytsia Negron (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Colegio Adianez) had 10 assists.
The second set started similar as the first, as UMBC held an early 9-7 lead before a Panchak kill kick started a huge run that gave UMBC an eventual 25-17 second set win. The Retrievers then dominated the entire third set, winning 25-12.
UMBC is back in action tomorrow at noon when it faces St.Francis Brooklyn in Radford before traveling to Blacksburg for a 7 p.m. nationally broadcast game with Virginia Tech. The match with the Hokies will air on ESPN3.