Albany, N.Y.-- It will be a rematch of last year's title tilt on Saturday when top-seeded Albany and third-seeded Binghamton fight for the 2009 America East Championship. Albany, the defending conference champion, defeated fourth-seeded UMBC, 3-0 Friday afternoon in the first semifinal of the tournament, while Binghamton swept second-seeded New Hampshire, 3-0 in the second semifinal at University Gymnasium.
Binghamton (14-15) defeated UNH (13-15) by set scores of 25-21, 25-17 25-20. The Bearcats outblocked the Wildcats, 7.0-2.0, and outhit the two seed, .189-.065. The Bearcats had a balanced attack with juniors Anna Lejina and Michelle McDonough tying for the team lead with seven kills and three others recording six kills. Setter Lindsey Mueller tallied 28 assists and 10 digs for a double-double, while also adding a pair of blocks.
Wildcat senior Lindsay Fogarty was the only player with double-digit kills with 10 on 37 total attacks. She also recorded 10 digs to complete the double-double.
UNH led early in the first set, 6-1 on two service aces by Fogarty, two Binghamton attack errors and a kill by Starsha Tunstall. Binghamton scored four straight points though to get back in the game. The teams went back and forth with no team leading by more than four points until the Bearcats took the lead for good on a kill by Sandra DeVito to make it 19-18. McDonough and Mueller put the set away with two straight kills for a final score of 25-21.
Binghamton never trailed the rest of the match, hitting .355 in the second set. McDonough tallied five of seven kills in the second set, helping the Bearcats to build momentum for the third and final set. Bearcat freshman Alex Roland smashed a kill for match point with the assist being credited to Mueller.
The Great Danes won by set scores of 25-19, 25-17 and 25-11 at University Gymnasium. Three Great Danes (21-8) reached double-digit digs, including Player and Setter of the Year Brooke Stanley who completed her 12th double-double of the season with 13 digs and 30 assists. Senior Valerie Sourbeer paced the offense with 11 kills against three errors on 27 total attempts for a .296 hitting percentage.
In the first set, Albany got up early, 16-4, which forced UMBC Head Coach Ian Blanchard to call two timeouts during that stretch. Coming out of the second timeout, the Retrievers went on a 10-3 run to come within 20-14, which included four UMBC blocks, three of them by sophomore Iman Kennedy. But it was too little, too late, as Albany responded by closing the game out with kills by Teresa Coppiellie, Hillary White and Kalyn Mostert. Coppiellie served up set point with her second ace of the game.
UMBC scored the first point of the second set on a kill by rookie Ali Loynachan. A service error by Sarah Joy started a five-point run for the Great Danes on Laura Livergood's service game. After the teams traded kills, the Retrievers went on their own 5-0 run to take a 8-7 lead. There were two more ties of 8-8 and 9-9 before Albany took off. White's kill gave Albany the lead for good at 10-9. White finished the second set with four kills and a block and hit. 500 through the first two sets. Coppiellie, who finished the match with nine kills, also scored the second set point with a kill.
Livergood's service game once again proved successful in the third set, as Albany won nine straight points to go up 12-4 early. During that stretch, Livergood served up two consecutive aces to give her three for the match. A kill by Loynachan killed the run for the Great Danes, but the Retrievers matched their second set total of nine attack errors and couldn't creep back into the game. Rookie of the Year Naomi Bush prolonged the eventual victory for Albany with UMBC's 10th and 11th points of the set both on kills, but Casey Wright's kill from Stanley on the third match point put the semifinal away for the Great Danes.