Furious Comeback Attempt Falls Short in Five-Set Defeat to UMBC
ALBANY, N.Y. –Down two sets, the UAlbany volleyball team roared back with third and fourth set victories and led 8-4 in the tiebreaker, but fell to UMBC in five (25-27, 20-25, 25-12, 25-21, 12-15) at the University Gym on Friday.
“Tonight’s match had glimpses of what is to come,” says coach MJ Engstrom. “When we make good choices on where to play defense and with offensive swings, we can play with anyone in the conference.”
UMBC (12-7, 3-1 AE) got off to a 4-1 start in the first set. Kills from Tatum Jungsten and Brostrom helped UAlbany (2-14, 2-2 AE) get within one at 5-4 and 6-5. At 9-7, UMBC took five of the next six points for a 14-8 lead, later leading 17-10. Using runs of 3-0 and 4-0, UAlbany got back in the set, trailing 21-19. Looking at set point at 24-21 UMBC, Brostrom took charge, earning three kills in a row to tie the game. UAlbany did not fall on the next set point, but a Krystal Mlemchukwu kill and Emily Witsaman-Hannah Schmidt combo block gave the set to UMBC 27-25.
Capped by a Viktoriia Stroilo service ace, UAlbany began the second game with a 3-1 lead. UMBC tied it up at 4-4, and at 7-7, a 4-0 run by the visitors made it 11-7, later leading 13-8. Another Stroilo ace helped UAlbany win three straight to pull within two. UMBC got its lead back to five after a 3-0 run for a 17-12 advantage. Down 22-17, Furlong earned a block and two straight kills to get the Great Danes within two again, but UMBC took the last three points to win 25-20 and go up 2-0 in the match.
Mikala McCauley served starting the third set, ending a 4-0 run with a service ace. After a UMBC point, Laini Leindecker served through a 5-0 run, including an ace and a pair of Brostrom kills. The Great Danes went back and forth with the Retrievers, holding a strong lead. At 13-5, UAlbany won five of the next six, capped by another McCauley ace. UMBC had a late 3-0 run, but UAlbany took four straight late, leading to a 25-12 victory to the home team to make it 2-1 in the match.
After UMBC got the first point of the fourth set, Dolan earned a kill to get McCauley serving. Again McCauley served through a run, getting an ace on the fourth UAlbany point for a 4-1 lead. At 5-3, the Great Danes earned five consecutive points off Strolio’s serving for a 10-3 advantage. The runs continued as Brostrom earned a pair of kills in a 3-0 run to push UAlbany up 13-4. The Great Danes maintained the lead as the two teams went back and forth. UMBC got three in a row to pull within three at 20-17. Jungsten stopped the run with a kill, but UMBC got within two 21-19 and later 22-20. Furlong earned a couple of consecutive points with a kill and block to set up match point. Following a Schmidt kill, a service error gave the set to UAlbany 25-21, forcing a tiebreaker.
Led by Tanaeri Santiago’s serving, UMBC got the first three points in the tiebreaker set. Led by a combo block from Furlong and Dolan, Leindecker served the Great Danes through a 6-0 run to surge ahead 6-3. Following a Schmidt kill, Brostrom and Jungsten earned kills to make it 8-4 UAlbany. UMBC took four of the following five to get within one. Brostrom earned her 21st kill to keep the lead for the home team, but UMBC countered by winning the next six. Jungsten earned a solo block and service to defend against a couple of match points, but a Mlemchukwu kill ended it in favor of UMBC 15-12, giving the five-set match to the visitors.
“Our serving helped our comeback in the third and fourth sets, and with a little more consistency we will begin to see this group grow into their potential,” says Engstrom.
Two Great Danes earned double doubles in the match. Brostrom’s 21 kills led the team, adding 14 digs and a pair of blocks. McCauley earned three new-career highs with 58 assists, 16 digs and four aces. Dolan had career-bests with 15 kills and five blocks, while Stroilo earned a career-high four digs, adding 15 digs.
For UMBC, Mlemchukwu hit .405 with 19 kills and four blocks. Schmidt got a double double with 17 kills, 14 digs and three blocks, while libero Casey Griffith got 28 digs.
UAlbany will welcome in Stony Brook for a 2 p.m. match at the University Gym on Sunday.