By: Everett Burris
Assistant Sports Editor
The UMBC women’s volleyball team trekked across country this past weekend to partake in the BYU Invitational. It was a grand opportunity for the unranked Retrievers to play top tier talent as they took on Utah Valley University, BYU and University of Washington, the latter two ranked in the top ten nationally.
Although valiant efforts were given, UMBC fell short in all three matches. The three straight losses brings their record to 4-3, after a 4-0 start which is their best since the 2007 season.
Back and forth was the pace of the first set in the match against Utah Valley. The two teams spurted at different moments. Lead by junior outside hitter Sherelle Walker, UMBC took a three-point lead in the middle of the set. Walker’s serve that forced an era, and an ace of her doing along with a Utah Valley attacking mistake had the Retrievers poised to run away with the set. Utah valley would have none of it as they rallied to bring it back to even and eventually put together three straight kills to take the set 28-26. The next two sets would follow a similar pattern, all ending in Utah Valley finding the ingredients to stave off UMBC and take the match 3-0.
The next morning UMBC found themselves in a battle against tournament host BYU. The BYU Cougars pounced on UMBC early, taking the first set 25-12. In the second set UMBC would show resilience as they took a 6-4 lead, but BYU responded immediately with a 7-0 run and eventually closed out the set 25-15. In the last set BYU just proved too strong as they put UMBC in a 11-1 stronghold and never took their foot off the pedal as they won 25-13, giving them the match 3-0.
Later that night against fifth ranked University of Washington, UMBC came out determined not to let the same result happen. Although Washington took an early lead UMBC fought back to cut the deficit to three. With the score 9-6 Washington turned up the tempo and squelched the Retriever comeback attempt by taking the first set 25-10. The next set saw similar results, with a 25-14 U. Washington victory. The final set of the day proved to be the best for UMBC when freshman outside hitter Abbie Mirabella stepped up and gave UMBC a lead in the set with a big kill. University of Washington answered swiftly with a 4-0 run and took the set but not without a hard fight from the Retrievers, who put up 17 points to Washington’s winning 25.
There is no doubt that UMBC will take some valuable experience away from playing these tough opponents, and showed improvement steadily throughout the weekend.
The Retrievers will hope to get back to their winning ways and apply what they learned in there tough losses in the Maddie Bingaman Memorial Tournament, held on Sept. 12 and 13 in the RAC.