BALTIMORE – UMBC junior hitter Hannah Schmidt pounded down 15 kills and picked up 11 digs for her fourth double-double of the season and the Retrievers rallied from a set down to defeat Hartford in four sets (22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-21), Friday evening in America East play at the RAC Arena.
"It was just another grind-out victory for us," said head coach Ian Blanchard. "We started serving a little better in the second set… and we got some big performances from Emily [Witsaman], Hannah [Schmidt], and Sherelle [Walker] tonight."
Senior middle Emily Witsaman (Medina, Ohio/Medina) tied for the match-high and led UMBC (13-8, 4-2 AE) with 17 kills while sophomore hitter Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) contributed 15 put-aways in the victory. Schmidt and Witsaman each recorded five block assists against the Hawks and UMBC registered 10.0 blocks to Hartford's 5.0.
On the back line, senior Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) scooped up a match-best 18 digs and freshman libero Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) added 13 digs.
For Hartford (8-14, 2-4 AE), freshman Corinne Horanzy sent down a career-high 17 kills and junior Sareeta Nethersole added 13 winners while registering 12 digs for the double-double.
The first set was a tight affair as the two squads traded the lead three times and were level on six occasions. After Hartford used a 4-0 run to retake the lead and build a two-point cushion, 14-12, the Retrievers won six of the next eight to grab the lead back, 18-16. UMBC led 19-18 after a kill from Goc, but the Hawks put together one last streak and won the first set, 25-22.
The Retrievers answered by opening the second frame on a 5-1 run, but the visitors answered back to level the set at 9-9 on a kill by Dionna Kirton. UMBC looked to put the set away and draw level in the match, building a four-point lead, 14-10, courtesy of a 5-1 run punctuated by a kill from Witsaman. Hartford did not go away, however, and grabbed the lead, 17-15. From there, though, the hosts took control, finishing the set hitting .429 behind 13 assists from senior Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary's Academy). UMBC went on to pull even with a 25-22 set win and McIntyre finished the match with 53 assists.
Each team went on a run to open the third set, but eventually a 6-2 UMBC stretch midway through the frame gave the Retrievers the push they needed. After sophomore Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech) smashed a winner, Witsaman followed with a put-away to give UMBC a six-point cushion, 18-12. Hartford chipped away at the lead and cut it to 22-18, but the Retrievers held their guests at bay, claiming the third set, 25-21, on a kill by Schmidt.
UMBC continued its momentum into the fourth set, winning the first three sets behind strong serving from Schmidt. The Hawks rallied quickly though, snatching the lead at 5-4 and tried to force a fifth set. Down by two, 14-12, Witsaman sparked a quick 3-0 run, and UMBC never trailed again. At 17-17, back-to-back kills from Schmidt and Goc put the hosts up for good as they finished off the match, 25-21, on a block by Witsaman and McIntyre.
UMBC now plays host to Providence on Sunday at the RAC Arena. The match between the Retrievers and Friars is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m.
- The Retrievers have now defeated the Hawks in four consecutive matches and lead the all-time series 21-2 with a 19-2 advantage in America East contests.
- Schmidt is now tied with McIntyre for second on the team with four double-doubles this season. Goc holds the team lead with nine.