By David F.P.
WEST HARTFORD, CT- The UMBC Retrievers have been a tough opponent of the Hartford Hawks for several years and it was no different on Friday as the two conference opponents met in the Reich Family Pavilion. Hartford would pull out to a 2 sets to 1 lead but UMBC would take the last two sets to edge the Hawks. Before the match began Hartford honored Senior Lindsay Ford, the lone member of the senior class, some of the spectators also came bearing Ford masks which they displayed happily throughout the game. It was a raucous atmosphere.
Editor’s Note: As always these reports are very offensive focused, this is not meant to take away from the defensive efforts and the cooperative efforts that each player is making, as they are all critical to a team’s success. It’s just a matter of what can be followed and relayed. Many defensive plays and key assists can be missed in the heat of the play.
Set 1 went UMBC’s way with a 25 to 19 score.
Highlights for UMBC included a good defensive save early on by Hallie Carter, Ali Loynachan opened the scoring with a spike, Emily Vandegrift and Loynachan shared a block, later Carter had another save, Ali Goc had a huge kill, and a serve by Loynachan was not return, Sabrina Hoeks sent a ball slashing into a corner, Vandegrift tapped an attack to a gap, and Hoeks and Vandegrift shared a block, Hoeks had a smash to the back not long afterward and she was also serving up a ridiculously long streak of points, including a service ace, Loynachan had another block, Hoeks had a diving save which kept the ball alive and Loynachan leapt up and added a kill, Vandegrift received a set and hammered it home, by the time the Hawks got a point it was 19 to 11, Goc added a kill for the team’s 20th point, and also was responsible for the team’s 24th point, the set was ended by a Hoeks kill.
And for the Hawks Lindsay Anderson unleashed a torrential downpour of a kill from the net, Michelle Cordell came up with a save, and added a block right after that, Ford had a save herself which eventually set up a Hartford point, two Hawks had a tandem block after that, Kami Nethersole sent a kill in and off a defender to tie the set at 9, Hartford benefitted from numerou attack error,s as well as Sydney Scott’s ace, and Corell’s kill off the blockers, back over and out of play, Ford used her misdirection set maneuver for a point late, and Nethersole absolutely crushed a ball over late,
Set 2 went to Hartford 25-22 in a closely contested contest.
For the Hawks their highlights included Scott’s block, and Nethersole’s service ace early on, Danielle Etta picked up a service ace early on, Scott added a spike of her own to tie the set at 7. Nethersole also got set the ball afterward and just unleashed a massive kill, and then another cross court immediately afterward, Nethersole struck yet again a few points later, Scott came up with a defensive save after a long rally, Anderson had a spike which lead to a UMBC attack error, Scott added a block, Nethersole sent an attack slicing through the blocks to tie It up, Nethersole’s kill tied it back up as the two sides continued to exchange points, Cordell threaded a needle to get a kill in to build a lead, and it would be a serve out of bounds by UMBC that gave Hartford the set win.
And for the Retrievers Vandegrift opened the set with a kill, and Hoeks added two service aces in a row, a great diving save by Allie Spaay kept the ball in play but did not result in any points, however, Vandegrift on the next play knocked an overpass in, later Loynachan put a ball down at the net, and Hoeks had a spike land just in play, Hoeks had a block midway through, and added another hard smash, and then soon following that a light tap over, Loynachan had a good defensive save, and later hurricaned a kill in on the Hawks zone, Loynachan leapt up to knock a spike in, Mallory McIntyre’s service ace gave UMBC a lead for the first time in a while, and caused a Hartford time out, Hoeks came out out of the time out with a whap off the blockers, Vandegrift had a block, Hoeks struck yet again for the teams last point of the night.
Set 3 was a 25-15 romp for Hartford.
Highlights for U of H included an early tandem block, they benefited from numerous UMBC attack errors, later Cordell picked up another kill, and she popped a ball off the block attempt for another, Ford hit another misdirection, and Cordell got a set and hammered it in, Scott added a tap over the block, and Dionna Kirton smashed a kill through the UMBC line after that, a good save by Cordell and Scott and later followed by Etta kept the ball moving during a long back and forth and Anderson rewarded that effort with a block, then came yet another Cordell kill, Ford struck again, and later Cordell’s block just in bounds added a 20th point, Ford had a good save not long afterward, and Etta added a defensive play to keep things going, though the final few points that went Hartford’s way were UMBC attack errors.
And for UMBC early on Hoeks picked up one of her many kills, Vandegrift broke a big Hartford scoring run with a spike, Carter ended a very long back and forth by sending a kill through the blockers, later Katie Kelly had a defensive save, later 6-3 Iman Kennedy got a set and crushed it, Hoeks had a pair of kills in close succession, and Loynachan added a block as well, Hoeks added a whap for the team’s 11th point, and Vandegrift’s jumping attack got her team within 3, before Hartford unleashed a long scoring run, very late in the set Kennedy and Carter shared a block, and Carter won a joust at the net.
Set 4 evened up the match as UMBC picked up the 25-21 win.
Highlights for the visitors included Hoeks opening the set with a kill off the blockers, Loynachan had a cross court spike, later, Kennedy had a hard kill, midway through it was McIntyre with the block, Hoeks hacked the ball in and then whapped it in right afterward, a kill from Loynachan spiked it over again and she added another kill to end one of the longest rallies back and forth of the set, a service ace by Carter gave them a lead and then another point followed, leading to a Hartford time out, Carter’s service ace did it again, and Bianca Sande picked up two straight kills to put the lead at 5. A few points later she added another kill, then came Hoeks, followed by Goc and a kill by Kennedy to end the set.
As for the Hawks, Kirton had an early kill, later she added another one, and Cordell had a huge shot off a defender’s dig and way way out of play, later Nethersole had a kill, and Ford pulled off some chicanery, Anderson got a set and blasted it over, then came a block from Cordell, and another kill from Kirton to keep pace with the UMBC scoring. Scott broke a scoring run with a kill of her own, and Ford added another point, late Cordell’s kill was just in bounds but that was the last scoring Hartford would do in the set.
It now came down to a decisive set 5. It opened with a Hoeks spike off the blockers after an exchange of points, and later Loynachan picked up another kill to make it 2-4, it was soon 2-5, before Kirton sturck, and another Hartford point followed, Sande responded for UMBC and her temmate McIntyre served up three straight service aces to put the lead at 4-9. Cordell broke the streak with a huge smash, but Sande responded to keep the lead at 5. Cordell returned fire, Vandegrift struck again as did Spaay amongst others, and the score was soon 15-6 with set and match going to UMBC.
It was as exciting as a volleyball game can get, though a disappointing senior night no doubt for the Hawks. Still, the fans gave the team a salute. The Hawks will finish the season on the road and UMBC returns home to face their last two opponents. Hartford slips to 8-19 and 3-7 in the America East, UMBC is at 10-14, and 6-3 in the conference.