By Christian Hince | October 25, 2021
Facing their toughest conference opponent yet, UAlbany was brought down Friday night by UMBC in four sets.
The Danes fell to 4-3 in the America East and hold an 8-13 record overall, while the visiting Retrievers surged to 9-0 in the conference, now sitting at 13-10 in total.
Despite the final score, UAlbany was competitive in every set. Even the five-point loss in the fourth was well contested, with UMBC just pulling away at the end. “It was a great battle tonight,” said coach Josh Pickard. “I’m proud of how the team came out and executed.”
UAlbany tallied the first point of the night with a kill by Grace Kozad, and jumped out to an early 4-1 advantage. Leading 12-7 at a later point, The Great Danes' momentum swung the opposite way, with the Retrievers tying the score and subsequently taking the lead at 15-14. UMBC came out on top, 27-25 with two Mia Bilusic kills, a highly contested round the rest of the way.
While the Great Danes opened up the second set leading 2-0, it was a battle, with leads exchanged five times and neither squad leading by more than two. However, the final lead change favored the Retrievers, which they used to lock up a 25-23 victory.
UMBC controlled much of the third, leading 3-0 early and holding a commanding advantage at 16-10 later on. UAlbany fought back, however, outscoring the Retrievers 7-1 to take their first lead of the set at 19-18. A few exchanges later, the Danes looked to lock up the third up 24-21, but four straight UMBC scores sent the round into extra points. Nevertheless, UAlbany took the third 29-27 after a Danielle Tedesco kill and team service ace.
The Danes began the fourth set in charge, leading 2-0 early. Staying in control further into the round, an Oren Abutbul kill, assisted by Malea Stanton, started a five-point run that put UAlbany up 14-8. Stanton ended up leading the squad with 34 assists on the night. Up 18-13 later on, it all unraveled for the Great Danes, when UMBC scored six straight for their first lead of the set. UAlbany battled back to make it 20-19, but another six-point run from the Retrievers ended the Great Danes’ night with defeat.
Multiple collapses kept the Danes from a statement win against the conference-undefeated UMBC, and Coach Pickard, while proud of the group’s fight, recognized how the team could’ve had a better night. “We made a couple mistakes here and there, and UMBC capitalized,” he said. “We definitely have things to work on, and we will definitely do that Monday in practice.
Aside from Stanton, other team leaders included Regan Wright with 15 kills and Charlotte Macken with 13 digs. Lilou Stegemen has been leading in blocks for all three games she’s played since returning from injury, tallying seven Friday night.
The Great Danes will resume play Tuesday when they visit Sacred Heart, who won their fourth straight Friday against Central Connecticut State.