PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – UMBC started its 2014 season with a pair of victories on Friday, beating South Dakota State and Fairleigh Dickinson in the Hawks Hullabaloo Holiday Tournament at UMES.
The Retrievers got help from a lot of places en route to a pair of straight-set victories and a 2-0 record. UMBC Head Coach Ian Blanchard was happy that the Retrievers were able to get help from a lot of places.
"We had good contributions from the entire team. We really played together as a team and competed as a team," said Blanchard. "It was a really solid first-day effort from us, especially considering we didn't know much about our opponents."
In the first match, UMBC rolled to a 25-15, 25-22, 25-20 straight-set victory. The Retrievers held South Dakota State to a .125 hitting percentage thanks to consistent defense.
On offense, freshman Abbie Mirabella (Hockessin, Del./St. Mark's) paced the Retrievers in her collegiate debut, finishing with 10 kills, three aces, five digs and helped on two blocks. The Jackrabbits were led by Ashley Beaner who had eight kills on a .333 hitting percentage.
"One of the reasons we liked Abbie so much when recruiting her was because she can score in a variety of ways," said Blanchard. "She has a really high volleyball IQ and that was on display today."
The second match played out in a similar fashion for the Retrievers as they defeated Fairleigh Dickinson (0-1) in straight sets, 25-15, 25-17, 25-17. Once again, Mirabella led the way for UMBC as the freshman recorded 14 kills and five aces. The Knights were led by Carly O'Sullivan's seven kills and .375 hitting percentage in the match.
Sherelle Walker (New Freedom, Pa./Susquehannock) was also very effective throughout the day for the black and gold. The junior posted 20 kills, while hitting .600 in the second match and registered nine kills and a .44 hitting percentage against SDSU.
For the day, Walker hit .515 with 19 kills and chipped in four blocks. Red-shirt junior Krystal Mlemchukwu (Baltimore, Md./Western Tech) had a great day serving, combining for eight aces overall. In her previous two seasons, she had 14 combined aces.
Paige Miller (Reading, Pa./Schuylkill Valley), who made her first start since 2012, had 61 assists on the day.
The Retrievers return to action tomorrow when they play Weber State at 2 p.m., followed by a 6 p.m. matchup against host UMES.