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Retrievers fall to Hartford on Senior Day, 3-1

By: Zain Ahmed

In her final match at the RAC, Zoya Trendafilova led UMBC with 18 kills.

In her final match at the RAC, Zoya Trendafilova led UMBC with 18 kills.

Senior Night was spoiled for the UMBC Retrievers as they dropped a 3-1 match to the Hartford Hawks, but at least had no impact on the Retrievers playoff seeding as they had already clinched the third seed in the America East Tournament the night before.

UMBC out-hit the Hawks .252 to .189, but they were unable to take full advantage of the Hawks 26 attack errors and couldn’t contend with the Hawks 53 kills as they suffered the 27-25, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23 defeat.

“Not our best effort of the season, which is unfortunate,” head coach Ian Blanchard said. “We seemed to lack a little sense or urgency. We didn’t play defense the way we are capable of playing defense. We didn’t block particularly well and we didn’t serve very aggressively or very effectively. You add that up into one big package and it adds up a loss.”

Senior outside hitter Zoya Trendafilova led the match with 18 kills while junior teammate Ashley Ramos added 11 kills. Middle blocker Lauren Mortimer hit 11 kills with hit a team-best .400.

Claudia Lopez returned from a two-game absence in the final two sets and contributed to 25 of the team’s 22 kills in those frames. Her two-game absence was called a “coach’s decision” by Blanchard, who said he “just wanted to play different players, make sure everyone is ready for the tournament. Kristwin Watson led UMBC with 21 digs.

UMBC fell behind 13-8 in the first set but were able to fight back to tie it up at 20 each on a kill by Trendafilova. After exchanged of points UMBC gained a 25-24 lead, but couldn’t finish the set. Hartford scored three-straight points and close out the first set with a kill by Jenna Bridges.

The Retrievers started slow out of the gate in the second set, but quickly picked it up and went on an eight-point run to go up 10-4 early. Hartford cut the lead down to two at 14-12 before an athletic, diving dig by Krystia Negron helped end the run and sparked a mini three-point run for UMBC to stretch their lead to 17-12. But they once again couldn’t close things out. Hartford was able to go on a 6-1 run to tie it 18-18 and never looked back from their to take the 2-0 set lead.

At the start of the third-set, the teams were neck-and-neck and only split by one point at 12-11. Then UMBC went on a huge run, out-scoring the Hawks 13-4 and won the set on a Trendafilova ace. Lopez made her first appearance of the match in the third set and immediately made her presence known with 10 assists on the team’s 12 set kills.

But the Retrievers could not carry their success into the fourth set. Hartford jumped out to a 10-4 lead following an attacking error by Franchesca Reed. After an even exchange of the next 18 points to make it 19-13, UMBC fought back to get withing one point. Hartford called a timeout to cool UMBC down. It worked a little. UMBC did tie the match at 21-21, but the Hawks finished on a 4-1 run, winning on a kill by Katy Henchy.

“I think we are a resilient enough group of people to put this behind us quickly and move forward,” Blanchard said. “I think if anything, what it does is gives us a shot in the arm to say ‘hey, let’s start playing a little harder and a little better.’”

Hartford setter Astrid Mangual led the match with 44 assists while Paulina Modestal had 15 kills and seven digs for the Hawks.

UMBC closes out the regular season with a 17-8 record and will travel to New Hampshire to take on second-seeded Albany on Friday, Nov. 18 at 4 pm.

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Zain Ahmed

Staff Writer
When Zain was a youngster his brothers were huge sports fans, but would only watch occasionally and wasn't a huge sports fan at the time. That would all change when he was in fourth grade and his father gave him his first two sports jerseys. He got an Elton Brand Clippers jersey and Derrick Brooks Buccaneers jersey. Those gifts jump-started his sports fandom, especially for basketball and football. Zain began to follow sports more than ever and even started to play a bit. When in high school he wrestled and played rec basketball. In 2014, his love for sports expanded even more with the World Cup. That got him interested in soccer and the English Premier League. After high school there were no more sports for Zain to play anymore, so to continue his passion for sports he moved into writing.

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