Bill Ziskin

UAlbany Volleyball Improves to 2-0 in America East Play with Four-Set Victory vs. UMass Lowell

UAlbany Sports Information   09-30-2016

ALBANY, N.Y. – The UAlbany volleyball team opened at home with a four-set victory over UMass Lowell (25-18, 17-25, 25-14, 25-20) for its second win in as many chances in America East play.

At 1-1 in the match, UAlbany (8-6, 2-0 AE) dominated UMass Lowell (5-11, 0-2 AE) in set three and won six of the final seven points in the fourth game to take the victory in the match.

“I want to thank everyone who came to support our team tonight; we had a wonderful, loud, boisterous crowd!” said UAlbany head coach MJ Engstrom. “The River Hawks came out in force and did a great job serving.  I thought we did a good job making adjustments in the last two sets to what UML was throwing at us.”

As a team, UAlbany hit .244, including at least .300 in the first and fourth sets.  UAlbany had Gabrielle Hansen as the libero for the first time in her collegiate career, finishing with 13 digs.

“We had a new lineup tonight, one that we’ve not competed with before, so a few wrinkles were bound to happen,” said Engstrom. “We had some rough spots tonight, and the team showed that they are learning to be resilient when we suffer some adversity.  Being at home with an awesome crowd backing us up certainly helped!”

Laini Leindecker earned a double-double on 15 kills and 12 digs while Chloe Evering hit .320 with 11 kills and eight digs.  Mikala McCauley also had a double-double with 37 assists, 17 digs and five kills while Akuabata Okenwa tallying nine kills and six blocks.

For UMass Lowell, Katherine Clayburgh had a .321 hitting percentage off 14 kills, adding eight digs.  Elima Ahzi concluded with two kills, four aces, four digs and two blocks.

Three early kills put UAlbany ahead 3-1 in the first set. Hansen and Nina Holmes each had 3-0 runs to build UAlbany’s lead to 9-3.  Amanda Dolan and Leindecker each added kills as UAlbany held the advantage at 12-5.  At 12-7, McCauley served UAlbany through another 3-0 run for a 15-7 lead, later having a 16-8 score.  A block and kill by Madi Bell capped a 4-0 UML streak to pull the visitors within four.  Okenwa buried a kill to end the run as exchanges started.  At 18-14, UAlbany pulled away with five in a row, capped by two Leindecker kills, to go up by nine.  Two McCauley dump kills helped finish the set as UAlbany won game one 25-18.

Two kills and two aces by Claybaugh helped give UML an early 7-1 advantage in set two, later leading 10-3.  Kills from Evering and Leindecker ended the run as the sides started to exchange.  A 3-0 run for UAlbany pulled the Great Danes within four at 16-12, then two UML errors later made it 19-16 River Hawks.  Bell served UML through a 4-0 sprint as the road team held the lead the rest of the way, winning 25-17 to even up the match.

With two Haley Shimon kills, UML got off to a 4-1 start in set three.  Sparked by a Okenwa-Taylor Robinson combo block, UAlbany won six of the next seven points to go ahead 7-5.  The two sides went back and forth until at 11-10, Okenwa earned a kill to start a big run.  Okenwa added another pair of kills and a block en route to a 7-0 streak for an 18-10 advantage.  UML got two back, then two Evering kills and another Okenwa kill made it 21-12 UAlbany.  The Great Danes finished UML off to take the set 25-14 and go up 2-1.

UAlbany and UML kept going back and forth to begin set four, with Okenwa blocks and Evering kills pacing the Great Danes.  At 9-7, a Claybaugh kill sent Ahzi back to serve.  Including three services aces, UML won seven straight to lead 14-9.  Leindecker notched two kills, but UML got the points back on a pair of kills.  UAlbany took the next four, finished by three straight points by Okenwa, to pull within one.  Then after a Claybaugh kill, Okenwa notched another kill to spark a 3-0 run to push UAlbany ahead 18-17.  The two sides got back to a tie at 19-19.  UAlbany took command on Holmes’s serving, taking the next four, including another Evering kill, to go up 23-19.  After an exchange, Dolan and Leindecker blocked down Masha Yelsukova’s attack on Emily Zimmerman’s serve to take the game win 25-20 and win the match in four.

UAlbany remains at home for its next match, hosting Hartford on Sunday, October 2nd at 2 p.m.

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