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UMBC sweeps Hounds, lead Charm City Challenge

UMBC volleyball

Two matches, two victories for the UMBC volleyball team, including a sweep of cross-town rival Loyola in a bragging-rights game on the first day of the Charm City Challenge.

UMBC earned a 25-16, 25-23, 25-21 victory over the Greyhounds as junior Abbie Mirabella posted a career-high 16 kills and hit .378 with three aces and three digs in the match. Setter Claudia Lopez was remarkable in the match as well, totaling 32 assists.

“I am really happy with the way we put pressure on Loyola throughout the match,” Retrievers head coach Ian Blanchard said. “We are serving the ball really well, I am happy with the way we’re passing it. We have gotten fantastic contributions from various members of the team throughout the early part of the season.”

UMBC out-hit Loyola .264 to .168 and posted four aces in the three-set match while 32 of their 45 points were assisted kills.

The Retrievers scored the first four points of the match and never lost their lead.

After the Greyhounds trilled UMBC’s lead in half, getting it to 5-3, UMBC responded with seven-straight points on Mirabella’s serve. Some of that has to do with three attacking errors by the Hounds, but Mirabella and Marissa Duncan each accounted for two points. Duncan’s both came in the form of kills while Mirabella started the run with a kill to get the serve and then hit an ace midway through the rally.

That stretched UMBC’s lead out to a commanding nine points at 12-3.

Loyola did put up a strong fight as Ann Ernst and Zoe Pawlak led a charge to get the Greyhounds back withing four points at 15-11, but another kill off a set from Lopez gave UMBC a five-point lead back and the serve. Francesca Reed’s serve led to two more points, forcing the Greyhounds to call a timeout, but UMBC continued to cruise to the end of the set.

Another five-point run gave UMBC a 24-13 lead and a fight for set point. Ernst was able to prolong the set with a kill and back-to-back miscues by UMBC gave Loyola points, but Lopez set Ashley Ramos up for the final kill to give the Retrievers the first set.

The second set was a much closer battle between the two teams. Loyola actually were the ones off to the better start, taking a 6-3 lead after a 5-2 run. Blanchard called a timeout and that seemed to settle his team back down, but Loyola was still in control of the set until a kill by Ramos off a set from Lopez gave UMBC the serve back and Mirabella followed with two more kills to tie the score at 10-10.

Loyola did not panic, however, and were able to get back out in the lead with a 6-1 run putting them ahead 17-13. Blanchard called another timeout, and that one was the one that turned the tied.

UMBC went on a 6-1 run of their own to retake the lead at 19-18. But it was back-and-forth and not just in long volleys. A kill by Brooke Hayden re-tired the game for UMBC at 23-23 and they finally closed out the set after the Greyhounds gave up a point with an attacking error and Mirabella earned a kill to win the set.

Despite the gut-punch of losing such a close third set, Loyola still came out strong and led early in the second set, but another timely run by the Retrievers gave them momentum at the right time to carry through for the victory.

Loyola led 14-11 but a block by Emily Panchak gave UMBC a point and the serve. Then a bad set and an attack error by the Greyhounds tied the game.

Loyola head coach Alija Pittenger called a timeout, but right out of the timeout another bad set gave UMBC the lead.

Ernst smacked a kill to re-tie the game, but two more points off a kill by Panchak and ace by Mirabella gave UMBC control of the set.

Another three-point spurt a bit later put UMBC ahead 23-19. After Loyola sandwiched UMBC points with kills by Puddy and Pawlak, respectively, Mirabella ended the match with the game-winning kill.

Ernst led the Greyhounds with 13 ills, but she also had eight of the team’s 21 attacking errors. Overall in the match Loyola had 39 errors that was impossible to overcome.

Both UMBC and Loyola won their earlier matches in the Charm City Challenge. UMBC earned a 3-1 victory over Akron, but out-hit them .281 to .238 and saw a very even attack get them the victory. UMBC was double-digit kills from Zoya Trendafilova (15), Ramos (14) and Hayden (13) in the match against the Zips. UMBC took the match 25-20, 23-25, 25-18, 30-28. Loyola swept Delaware State 25-18, 25-19, 25-17 in their match earlier in the day. Pawlak led the Greyhounds with 12 kills while the team served 10 aces.

UMBC will play Delaware State and Loyola will play Akron on the final day of the tournament on Saturday.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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