November 8, 2013

Volleyball Clinches Third Straight America East Playoff Appearance, Upends UMBC, 3-0

 

DURHAM, N.H. - Right side hitters Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) and Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) each recorded double-digit kill efforts, lifting the University of New Hampshire volleyball team to a 3-0 win over the University of Maryland, Baltimore County at Lundholm Gymnasium Friday evening.

The set scores were 25-16, 25-23 and 25-11.
 
The Wildcats have defeated their opponent in continuous sets four consecutive times, all against America East opponents, improving to 15-12 overall and 9-2 in America East play. UMBC is now 16-10, 7-4. Furthermore, the first place Wildcats clinch a third consecutive playoff berth in the America East Championships. The Wildcats will appear in the conference tournament for the 12th time in program history, all under head coach Jill Hirschinger.

Offensively, Thatcher and Tolliver notched kill tallies of 12 and 11 respectively. Tolliver compiled a .500 hitting percentage while Thatcher swung a .455 clip in the match. Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) dished out 32 assists to quarterback the offense to a .276 hitting percentage.

In the backcourt, Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) earned a team-high 18 digs to curb the Retrievers' defense to a .138 clip. The tandem of Thatcher and Tolliver earned three block assists apiece.

The Wildcats never trailed in the opening set, bolting out to a 5-1 lead. Following a Retriever timeout, the 'Cats were able to tack on three more consecutive points to lead 8-1. UMBC attempted to rally in the set, cutting down UNH's lead at 13-8. However, the Wildcats were able to construct a 4-1 run to increase their lead to 17-9. The Retrievers attempted to inch back in with a five kill effort by Hannah Schmidt in the set. Despite UMBC's efforts, the 'Cats outlasted the Retrievers in set one, 25-16.

In the second frame, the Retrievers and Wildcats each registered seven points to open the set. A Tolliver kill followed by a UMBC ball handling error forced the Retrievers to take a timeout as the 'Cats led 9-7. Coming out of the break, New Hampshire was able to capture five to the next seven points, building a 14-9 advantage. UMBC was advantageous of a pair of setting errors ensued by back-to-back kills from Krystal Mlemchukwu and Sherelle Walker. The four-point swing allowed the Retrievers to pull within one point at 16-15.

However, the home team was able to distance themselves again, receiving offensive help from Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) and Tolliver, building a 19-16 lead. Following a Retrievers' timeout, UMBC was able to capitalize on hitting miscues from the 'Cats, capturing a 20-19 late in the set to compel New Hampshire to use a timeout.  The Wildcats were able to regroup as four straight points ensued after the stoppage to regain the lead at 23-20. UMBC attempted to close the gap, trailing by just one point at 24-23. Nevertheless, Abby Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio) struck down the set point, giving UNH the set two victory a 2-0 lead.

After conceding the opening point in the third stanza, the Wildcats dashed out to a 5-1 lead. UMBC responded, taking five of the following seven points to trail by two points. UNH followed up with a 4-1 run, powered by a pair of kills from Forrest. New Hampshire continued to apply the pressure, building up the lead to 17-9. After the UMBC stoppage, UNH tacked on four more points to lead 21-9. Despite a pair of Ali Goc kills, New Hampshire was able to capture set three, 25-11 and preserve the three set sweep.


The Wildcats look to stay atop the America East standings, against Stony Brook University on Sunday, Nov. 10 (1 p.m.). The Wildcats then close the regular season with a pair of home games beginning Nov. 15 (7 p.m.) against the University at Albany. For more information about UNH volleyball, be sure to visit UNHWildcats.com. 

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