UAlbany Volleyball Downed in America East Title Match to UNH 3-0
DURHAM, N.H. – Playing in its third consecutive America East title match, the UAlbany volleyball team fell to tournament host New Hampshire in three (22-25, 18-25, 18-25) on Saturday night.
With the defeat, UAlbany’s 2016 season comes to a close, finishing 16-10 overall with a second-place finish in conference play.
“This season as a whole has been a great journey with the most wonderful people,” said UAlbany coach MJ Engstrom. “Every match has its lessons, and clearly there were many today.”
It was the final match for UAlbany seniors Amanda Dolan, Laini Leindecker and Mikala McCauley. Dolan finishes as UAlbany’s all-time DI leader in blocks, Leindecker is just one of four players with over 1,000 kills and digs while McCauley is a member of the 3,000-assist club and 1,000-dig club.
“Laini, Mikala and Amanda have shown honestly, integrity and leadership beyond their years, and our program is better because they’ve become Great Danes,” said Engstrom. “They begin a separate sojourn tonight, and we are blessed to have had their company for the last four years.”
Leindecker and Nicole Otero were named to the America East All-Tournament Team.
For UNH, Demi Muses got a double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs. Keelin Severtson finished with 34 assists, six digs, two aces and two blocks with Emily Tanski had seven kills and 10 digs.
Into set one, Severtson served UNH through a 4-0 run, with all serves not returning to the other side, to put the Wildcats up 4-1. Down 8-4, Evering punched a kill through the block to send Gabrielle Hansen to serve. Two aces and three UNH attack errors later, UAlbany completed a 6-0 run for a 10-8 advantage. UNH tied it up at 10-10, then the teams exchanged a pair of kills to make it 12-12. The back and forth continued until at 15-14, UNH got four of the next five, including two Kennedi Smith kills, to go ahead 18-16. UAlbany tied it up with an Evering kill and a Dolan- McCauley combo block, and kept pace with two Leindecker kills. At 20-20, two Emily Tanski kills led UAlbany to call timeout down two. Taylor Robinson ended the run with a tip kill, adding another kill later, but UAlbany could not bridge the gap and fell 25-22 in set one.
UNH had another early run to begin set two, using three kills in a 5-0 run to lead 5-1. A UNH service error and an Otero ace off Smith pulled UAlbany to within two. At 6-4, a couple of Demi Muses kills helped UNH rebuild its lead to 10-5, later going up 15-7. UAlbany called a timeout, then saw Okenwa destroy two kills, then block a Tanski strike for a 3-0 run, pulling the Great Danes within five. UNH countered again, taking five of six for a 22-12 lead. UAlbany tried to come back, being sparked by an Evering kill to get a 4-0 run. But the Great Danes could not get closer, falling to UNH 25-18 in set two and 2-0 in the match.
UAlbany had to go against another early 5-1 deficit in set three. Using two kills and a block from Evering, UAlbany rallied to tie the set at 6-6. UNH, started by a Hanna Petke kill, got the five points to go up 11-6. UAlbany got a couple of points back on kills from McCauley and Leindecker, but UNH kept its lead strong at 17-11. With a kill from Otero and another from Leindecker, UAlbany got to within four at 21-17. UNH finished the set with three kills in a row to win 25-18 and take the match in three.