WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – UMBC senior Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin) recorded her team-leading 14th double-double of the season by registering ten kills and 13 digs, but it was not enough as the UMBC volleyball team lost to Hartford in three sets (25-21, 25-23, 27-25), Sunday afternoon in the season finale for both teams at the Sports Center.
Despite the loss, UMBC (18-11, 9-5 America East) will advance to the America East Championships for the sixth-straight year while Hartford ends the season with a 12-18 mark overall and 6-8 record in conference play. The Retrievers will enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed behind regular season champion New Hampshire who will host the four-team playoff.
Senior Emily Witsaman (Medina, Ohio/Medina) recorded double-digit kills for the Retrievers for the second consecutive contest, powering down a match-best 13 winners. Classmate Mallory McIntyre (Winnipeg, Manitoba/St. Mary's Academy) handed out 38 assists for the Black and Gold while freshman libero Casey Griffith (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) picked up 19 digs.
Dionna Kirton led Hartford by equaling Witsaman with a match-high 13 kills while also scooping up 13 digs to complete the double-double. Setter Jackie Tamburri also notched a double-double with 21 assists and 11 digs.
In the opening frame, UMBC started brightly claiming three straight after dropping the first point of the match. The lead was lost quickly, though, as Hartford ran off seven straight for an 8-3 lead, and the Hawks would not trail again. The Retrievers did not go away, fighting to draw level at 15-15, on a kill by Witsaman, and again at 16-16 following a Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) winner. Hartford responded with a mini 3-0 run and held off UMBC to take the set, 25-21.
The Retrievers held the early momentum in the second set, jumping out to a 5-2 lead on another kill by Walker and the sophomore would finish with ten put-aways in the match. UMBC held off the hosts for almost the entire set until Hartford won back-to-back points after trailing 20-19, and then rallied again to win the final three points of the set for a 25-23 set win.
The third set was tight as well as the two squads traded the lead three times and were level on eight other occasions. Down 20-16, UMBC won five of the next six points to draw even at 21-21 on a Walker put-away. Following a block by sophomore Kristen Cooper (Davidsonville, Md./South River) and senior Rebecca Garrigues (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga), and then a Cooper kill, UMBC had a set point at 25-24. Hartford regrouped, however, and won the next three points to secure the set, 27-25, and the match.
- Hartford's win cuts the UMBC lead in the all-time series to 21-3 and 19-3 in America East play.
- The Hawks have now defeated the Retrievers two of the last three years in Connecticut.
- UMBC had won three straight regular season finales prior to Sunday's loss. The Retrievers last closed the regular season with a loss in 2009.