After spending two weeks on the road for the Penn State Invitational and the Bruiser Showcase in Nashville, Tennessee, the UMBC Volleyball team finally got to play their first match in the brand new Event Center on Friday. The Retrievers entered the match having gone 2-4 over the previous weeks as they faced some tough competition.
It was a bittersweet weekend for the Retrievers though. The excitement of starting at the new event center and a ceremony celebrating Kristen Watson’s one thousandth career dig highlighted the weekend, but the matches themselves would prove to be challenging for UMBC.
It was an early start for the Volleyball team on Friday, with a scheduled start time of 10 a.m., but both teams were energetic from the start, cheering loudly from the court and the sidelines with each point scored.
The Retrievers started off well in the first set, getting off to an early 9-4 lead over the visiting Robert Morris Colonials. UMBC would hold that lead until the Colonials tied the set at a score of 11-11. But from there, the Retrievers would regain the lead and would maintain that lead throughout the set, winning by a score of 25-21.
UMBC would struggle to score in the second set, falling to an early 5-1 deficit. Robert Morris dominated the Retrievers for the remainder of the set, winning 25-13.
In the third set the tides would turn for the Retrievers as they came out strong offensively with an impressive kill from junior-middle blocker Franchesca Reed. They would eventually take a 7-1 lead after a kill by freshman-outside hitter Paige Krenik. UMBC would continue their offensive onslaught in the third set, winning the set 25-11.
The fourth set of the match was an impressive battle between the two teams. The Colonials and the Retrievers went virtually back-and-fourth through the entire match, with neither team seeming to have the advantage. They seemed to match each other point for point.
UMBC had an opportunity to win the set and the match as they lead the game 24-23 late, but an errant serve allowed Robert Morris to tie the game at 24-24. UMBC would again have a chance to win after going up 25-24, but Taylor Lord of Robert Morris would tie the game once again with a kill. Lord would then register two more points for the Colonials, giving them a 27-24 set win.
UMBC would struggle to score once again in the fifth set, failing to challenge Robert Morris as they fell in the set 15-8, thus losing the match 3-2.
On Friday evening, the Retrievers would come out strong in their match against the James Madison University Dukes. In the first set the teams would play to a 8-8 score early, before UMBC would start to pull away slightly. After a kill by Reed that gave UMBC a 9-8 lead, the Retrievers would not allow the Dukes to come back again in the set, winning by a score of 25-21.
But the Retrievers would struggle offensively in the next two sets scoring only 10 and 13 points respectively as the Dukes cruised to back-to-back victories. The Retrievers would play a much closer game but would eventually fall to 25-23, losing the match by a score of 3-1.
But the weekend would end on a good note on Saturday afternoon as the Retrievers took on the Loyola Greyhounds. The in-state foe gave UMBC a good fight on Saturday playing them tightly throughout the match.
The day started with the Greyhounds winning the first set 25-19, after UMBC had taken an early lead, but the rest of the match would belong to UMBC as they would ride a solid offensive performance to a sweep of the final three sets. Freeman had an especially impressive performance on the day, registering 19 kills throughout the contest. Watson led the way on defense, registering 23 digs as UMBC fought their way to victories of 25-16, 25-23 and 25-16 respectively.
This was the first win for the Retrievers in the new Event Center. With this win, they improved their record to 3-6 on the season. UMBC will play again Friday as they take on Ball St., La Salle and Towson in the Towson Invitational.