Junior defensive specialist Kristin Watson has been a leader on the UMBC volleyball team and continues to drive the Retrievers in their conference season. The Retrievers currently stand with a 2-1 America East conference record. Photo by Ian Feldman.
Serving for the win, she tosses the ball up high– everyone’s eyes are locked in. As the ball hangs in the air, a vicious spike smashes the ball downward as it bounces off the ground resulting in a point.
UMBC’s women’s volleyball team has been on a roll lately and that is thanks in part to Kristin Watson and Carmen Freeman. These two women have each made an impact on the team in their own ways. Watson is the co-captain on the team and one of the defensive anchors, also named the defensive player of the year for the conference last year.
Carmen Freeman, a freshman on the team, has garnished a great deal of respect in her own right earning rookie of the week on three separate occasions.
The UMBC Volleyball team has won four of the last give games after facing Binghamton. The Retrievers won 3-1 taking three straight sets.
Preparation is key explains Coach Ian Blanchard as he discusses the team’s preparation strategy for starting conference season.
“We try to prepare as best we can for each opponent and try to figure out their strengths and weaknesses”.
The Retrievers were definitely able to spot some weaknesses and make a strong comeback, dominating in the last two sets. Watson showed up as expected with 20 digs while Carmen showed out on her side with 16 kills.
This game marked the team’s third straight conference game out of seven and demonstrated the team’s strong start on the right foot with this win. Rebounding after a loss where they didn’t win a set was a tremendous feeling, a triumphant return of that winning high as Carmen explains.
“It definitely hurts. Especially when you’re on a streak, you’re on a mindset of winning and then you lose and its like, oh forgot what that feels like. But I think we’re all ready to get back in it and play well against other teams”.
These last two seasons have fared well for the Retrievers, posting a winning record the previous season and continuing that run with a winning record so far this year. Coach Blanchard describes this year’s team as, “one of best teams we’ve had from a chemistry perspective. We have very good leadership in our junior class as well as the sophomore class which provides a good look for our freshman.”
Watson is one of these unsung heroes on that back end, keeping the volleyball in play and saving points. Going into Binghamton, she expressed their determination and admits mistakes and shortcomings from the previous matchup.
“This is our very first home conference game so we’re excited about that but we have to be more aggressive in our serves, try to be in sync for our serve receive and i think that’ll lead to the rest of our game going well.”
Watson is one of the junior leaders that has helped to shape this winning mentality for the team with a tremendous amount of hard work and focus. There was no doubt about this when asked about getting over the loss to Hartford where she stated: “We dont want to play like that again. It was some what of a wake up call we gotta be better we gotta work harder and stay focused if we want to compete.”
That loss along with Watson’s leadership seemed to re-motivate the team to continue their streak with a 3-1 win against Binghamton. The Retrievers continue to make a run for the championship with a postponed game against Albany and two away matches against University of Massachusetts Lowell and New Hampshire starting on Friday, Oct. 13.