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UMBC wins AEC opener on Mirabella’s big 5th set

Abie Mirabella smacked down seven of her match-high 19 kills in the fifth set to lead UMBC to a win in their America East opener.

Abie Mirabella smacked down seven of her match-high 19 kills in the fifth set to lead UMBC to a win in their America East opener.

Abbie Mirabella had a monster fifth set to lead the UMBC volleyball team to a grueling victory over Stony Brook in their conference opener on Friday night at the RAC. Mirabella smacked seven of her match-high 19 kills in the deciding set. For the match she hit .368 and registered 14 digs. Sophomore Claudia Lopez assisted 46 of UMBC’s 54 kills and 70 points. She also posted a double-double with 11 digs in the match while serving up two aces.

After dropping a close opening set, 26-24, UMBC fought for a 25-23 second set victory to even the match. However, they did not let their one-sided 25-14 third-set loss taken them out of the match and dominated the Seawolves 25-14 to win the fourth set and took the fifth set 15-10 for the victory in their first America East match of the season.

“It was a huge win for us. I love our resilience,” UMBC head coach Ian Blanchard said. “This team knows how to fight and never gives up. Abbie once again led us with her strong hitting. Claudia made great decisions down the stretch and [Kristin] Watson made very big defensive players.”

Watson had 19 digs in the match and Fran Reed had a career-high 10 kills with five blocks to help lead the Retrievers win for an eighth time in their last nine matches.

UMBC held a 24-21 lead near the end of a back-and-forth opening set, but Stony Brook scored five-straight points to take it at the end. But blowing the opening set did not take the Retrievers out of their game. They still endured through another back-and-forth second set, nearly going strike-for-strike with Stony Brook as neither team could string together a significant run of points.

A three-point run by UMBC in which Mirabella recorded back-to-back kills gave the Retrievers their best lead of the set at 17-14, but after more exchanges, Stony Brook got right back in the match with a three-point run of their own. UMBC actually committed three errors to give the Seawolves those point and getting them within one point at 20-19.

UMBC battled through to the end, though, and after a kill by SBU’s Lix Pulver tied the set at 23-23, a block by Brooke Hayden set the Retrievers up for set point and she evened the match with an immediate ace.

Everything went Stony Brooks’ way early in the third set as they bolted out to an 11-1 lead. While Maria Poole opened the set with a kill for the Seawolves she made two blocks to extend SBU’s opening run. Stony Brook also has three aces with Kardasia Hitchcock back serving during their early run.

After falling behind 18-6, UMBC went on a five-point run to get back closer into the match with Reed and Ramos leaping at the net for back-to-back blocks. But they could not get closer than 18-11 and the Seawolves cruised to a dominant third-set victory.

However, UMBC did not allow that blowout loss take them out of their game and let Stony Brook pull away in another set. Instead, UMBC used a four-point run in which they earned three points by kills to take a 6-3 lead and they never trailed the rest of the match.

Another key run in the fourth set saw UMBC string together six-straight points to really pull away. A Mirabella kill opened the run with two Lauren Mortimer assisted blocks adding to the run right after. Another kill by Mirabella gave UMBC an 18-10 lead before back-to-back errors were charged to Stony Brook.

UMBC doubled SBU 20-10 and closed out the set to even the match at 2-2.

And in the final set, Mirabella gave UMBC the first point and they never looked back. UMBC Mirabella has three kills early as UMBC went out to a 5-2 lead. Stony Brook kept the score close, just a two-point lead for the Retrievers, until UMBC went on a four-point run with Mirabella scoring two more kills, Taylor Alexander serving an ace and a bad set called against the Seawolves. That made it a 13-7 set. Mirabella set UMBC up for match point with a kill. Stony Brook was able to save two of them, but Mirabella finished it off with another kill to give UMBC the victory.

While neither team his particularly well in the match, UMBC out-hit Stony Broo .172 to .139 and used seven aces to help create the necessary separation.

UMBC will have a week off before traveling to face three-time defending America East Champion New Hampshire next Friday. They won’t return home until October 7 when they host Albany as part of the schools homecoming festivities.

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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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