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Volleyball suffers tough loss to Albany at homecoming match

The UMBC women’s volleyball team was defeated by American East Conference rival the University at Albany this past Friday at the RAC Arena. A balanced offensive attack by Albany’s front line and unforced errors by UMBC led the Danes to victory in four sets (22-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-22).

Despite the tough loss, UMBC’s head coach, Ian Blanchard, prefers to focus on the positives of the outcome.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of executing our game-plan tonight,” he said. “When you lose a game in close sets, it’s ultimately going to come down to one or two plays.”

The Retrievers came out strong, defeating Albany in the first set 25-22. Senior Abbie Mirabella and junior Ashley Ramos each recorded five kills. Sophomore Kristin Watson also played solid defense, evidenced by her ten digs. Statistically, UMBC out-hit Albany with help from redshirt freshman, Emily Panchak and a strong group of upperclassmen, but as Blanchard notes, the service game is what cost the team in the end.

“We didn’t serve as well as we would’ve liked. If you look at the numbers, we had zero aces and 15 errors – that’s not a very good ratio,” he said. “We do a lot of things in practice to try to simulate those situations, so it’s a little disappointing to have that happen.”

Strong defensive plays slowed down the Retriever’s momentum, as Albany totalled 11 blocks and 82 digs. The Danes defense was led by standout sophomore Nicole Otero who had 25 digs in the match. The Retrievers rallied and matched Albany’s pace, but fell short in the end.

“It’s called the 2 percent rule,” Coach Blanchard noted. “I think if we were 2 percent better on some of the plays then we would have won the match.”

This was the 34th meeting of the Retrievers and the Danes in the all-time series. Albany improves their record to 26-7. It was the first meeting of the two teams in over a year.

The Retrievers must rebound quickly as they face another AEC rival, Binghamton University, on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the RAC Arena. Blanchard hopes that the team will improve upon their previous performance when facing the Bearcats.

“We have to be a bit crisper at the service line during high pressure situations,” he said. “We also had a couple of kids who weren’t feeling that well [during the Albany game] and couldn’t hit at the level they normally do, so hopefully we will get healthier so we can execute better in our next match.”

UMBC hopes to improve their conference record to 2-1 with a win against Binghamton to cap off Homecoming weekend.