It looked as if Stony Brook Volleyball could pull off the upset against UMBC, who is currently second in the standings in the America East. They had won two straight sets and momentum was on their side.
But the Seawolves could not keep up the same level of play, dropping the final three sets against the Retrievers at home on Friday night, 3-2 (25-17, 25-21, 24-26, 22-25, 9-15).
“I feel like the first two sets were incredible,” sophomore middle hitter McKyla Brooks said. “We played with heart, we played with our minds, we were ready to win. I feel like coming back into the third set, we were determined to win but we changed what we were doing, so that screwed us up.”
The two teams went tick for tack in the third game until the Seawolves pulled ahead to a 15-11 lead. However, the Retrievers went on a four-point run to tie the game at 15.
UMBC soon pulled ahead after freshman opposite hitter Maria Poole was blocked. But Poole would redeem herself on the next play with a kill that tied the game at 16.
After trading points in a back-and-forth contest, the Retrievers eventually took a 24-23 lead. But Poole tied up the game once again with another timely kill, keeping the Seawolves alive.
However, UMBC would score two straight points to take the set 26-24.
Stony Brook’s loss of momentum showed in the last two sets. Although they led 7-2 in the fourth set, the Seawolves watched their lead fall to 11-9. UMBC had two attack errors that pushed Stony Brook’s lead to 13-9.
But mistakes would cost the Seawolves the set. Freshman defensive specialist Kardasia Hitchcock recorded a service error that put UMBC at set point and classmate outside hitter LeAnne Sakowicz’s attack error would give the Retrievers the game. The match was tied at two sets apiece.
Stony Brook looked lost as UMBC marched to an 11-6 lead in the final set. Eventually, UMBC pulled ahead 14-8 after Brooks was stuffed at the net. Sakowicz would record another attack error, giving the Retrievers the match.
“Our mindsets aren’t there,” Brooks said. “So, that’s the huge change when we play. It’s frustrating because we’re a really, really good team and we’re all physically there but I don’t think we’re mentally there yet.”
The Seawolves were a much different team entering the match than they were when they made their exit. Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Wilson would single-handedly lead Stony Brook on a three-point run in the first set to push her team’s lead to 7-3. Wilson had 13 kills on the night and a career-high tying five blocks. The team would maintain and take the set 25-17 after Poole slammed down a kill.
Poole would also open up the second set with a kill. She put on a show for the Seawolves, with 13 kills and two blocks. The set was close, as there were ten ties. But Stony Brook would take full advantage of UMBC’s errors and strong play from Brooks, who led the team with 14 kills, and took the set 25-21.
Next for Stony Brook is a tough home match against New Hampshire on Oct. 28. The Wildcats are currently third in the America East and shut out the Seawolves when they met in New Hampshire earlier in the season.
“Our focus has been on improving since day one,” head coach Coley Pawlikowski said. “We’re getting better, we’re improving everyday. That’s all we can hope for.”