Albany and UMBC Advance To Volleyball Final
Albany, N.Y.-The top-seeded University at Albany Great Danes will look for their fifth America East Championship crown since 2004 when they host No. 3 UMBC at University Gym in Albany, N.Y. in the conference title tilt on Saturday evening at 7p.m. Both teams advanced to the final with semifinal victories Friday night.
Albany and UMBC last met in the conference championship match in 2006, which resulted in an Albany title. The winner of the championship match earns an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
UMBC advanced to the final after beating No. 2 Binghamton for the third time this season. The Retrievers topped the Bearcats in three games, 25-15, 25-21, 25-15. UMBC was led by America East All-Rookie outside hitter Ali Goc and junior middle blocker Iman Kennedy. Goc led the Retrievers with 11 kills. The freshman added 14 digs as she was the only Retriever to record a double-double. Kennedy was a dominant force in the middle, recording 11 kills while hitting at a .714 clip. That hitting percentage broke the America East tournament record for hitting in a match, which has stood since 1993. Kennedy also led UMBC with five block assists.
As a team, the Retrievers hit .324 while holding Binghamton to .135 hitting and forcing 16 Bearcat errors. Despite the rough day, first-team All-Conference outside hitters Anna Lejina and Michelle McDonough had 10 and nine kills, respectively, for Binghamton. No other Bearcat had more than five kills.
In the second match of the day, Albany snuck past No. 4 Stony Brook in a five-set thriller. The Great Danes raced out to a 2-0 lead after two games. Albany took set one, 25-19, going on a 10-4 run to take the lead. The Danes took the second set, 25-14. However, the Seawolves fought back, winning the third and fourth games, 25-15 and 25-18, respectively.
Albany won game five and the match, 15-10. The Great Danes were led by the defensive performance by their first-team All-Conference middle blocker Casey Wright. Wright recorded six solo blocks, tying the championship single-match record, which dated back to 1993. Wright added eight kills on the offensive end. Albany totaled 10 blocks as a team.
America East Player of the Year Teresa Coppiellie helped Albany come back from losing back-to-back games, leading the Great Danes with 11 kills and adding 20 digs. Defensive Specialist of the Year Laurie Gonzalez led Albany with 22 digs.
Stony Brook junior swing hitter and first-team All-Conference performer Alicia Nelson racked up a match-high 26 kills as she brought the Seawolves back into the match. The junior added 16 digs to grab the double-double. Fellow first-teamer Ashley Headen tallied 10 kills and added two block assists.