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Volleyball falls to hard-hitting New Hampshire in four sets

The UMBC women’s volleyball team lost to America East Conference rival the University of New Hampshire Wildcats on Sunday, Oct. 30 at the RAC Arena. A combination of unrelenting offense by the Wildcats and subpar defense by the Retrievers led to the Wildcat victory in four sets (25-16, 27-29, 25-16, 25-20).

Coach Ian Blanchard noted that his team did not play to the best of their abilities.

“We did not compete at a high a level as we normally do,” he said. “Our execution offensively and defensively was not as crisp as we have been doing the last few weeks.”

New Hampshire’s offense started strong in the first set with perfectly placed kills that kept the Retriever defense off balance. Senior New Hampshire standout, Demi Muses, led the offensive charge for the Wildcats, tallying six kills in the first set. She finished the night with 17 total kills. Muses was aided by sophomore Gabri Olhava who recorded 15 kills by the end of the match.

There were brief moments of glory for the Retrievers, particularly in the long, hard-fought second set. UMBC gained momentum with strong offensive plays by senior Zoya Trendafilova and junior Abbie Mirabella. The duo tallied eleven kills each. Aces by Trendafilova and junior Ashley Ramos kept the Retrievers in the match.

The Retriever’s Megi Dervishi came into the game in the second set and gave the team some much needed energy. She finished the night with three kills.

“Megi came off the bench in the second set and gave us a nice lift offensively and defensively,” said Blanchard.

Unfortunately, UMBC failed to keep up the momentum after winning the second set. The Wildcats swiftly won the final set to close the match. Blanchard attributes the loss to a lack of consistency.

“We were not able to maintain momentum into the third set,” he said. “Ultimately the biggest disappointment was our inability to follow big plays and momentum driving plays with any amount of consistency. Too often we followed a big block or a big kill with a missed serve.”

UMBC’s loss to the Wildcats brings their record to 5-3 in conference play, with New Hampshire improving to 5-3 in the AEC. The teams are neck-in-neck in the conference standings with the University at Albany in the top spot.

The Retrievers hope to break a two game losing streak when they travel to upstate New York to take on Binghamton University on Friday, Nov. 4. They will face another AEC rival in New York that following Sunday when they take on Albany. The games will begin at 7 p.m. and 2 p.m, respectively.