Volleyball Moves to 2-0 in America East with 3-2 Win Over UMBC

BALTIMORE. – Junior Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) netted 18 kills and three other Wildcats posted double-digit kills as the University of New Hampshire volleyball team downed UMBC, 3-2, in America East action Friday night at RAC Arena.

New Hampshire (10-8, 2-0) won its fifth-straight match and has now played in eight five-set matches this season, winning the last three during the winning streak. UMBC falls to 7-12 on the season and 0-2 in conference play.

Thatcher, the reigning America East Player of the Week, posted a .405 hitting percentage to pair with four blocks. Freshmen Abby Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio) and Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) posted 13 kills apiece, while fellow rookie Brenna Buckwalter (Evergreen, Colo.) logged 11 kills and hit at a .333 clip. Senior Jansan Falcusan (Plymouth, Mich.) racked up 52 assists, while junior Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) posted six blocks. Senior Jessie Schnepp (East Longmeadow, Mass.) chipped in with 15 digs.

The two teams went back-and-forth in the opening set, but after nine even scores UMBC used a 4-0 run to move out in front at 16-12. Still facing a four-point deficit at 21-17, UNH rallied for a 7-0 stretch for the 24-21 advantage before a kill by Thatcher sealed the 25-22 victory. UNH had five kills during the final 8-point stretch, including three by Thatcher to secure the 1-0 match lead.

In the second set, the teams were knotted up at 15 points apiece before the Retrievers netted six unanswered for the 21-15 lead. UNH answered with back-to-back points, but the home side ended with a 4-1 run to claim the set at 25-18.

Once again, the teams were evenly matched in the third set before UNH broke a 17-17 tie with four straight as consecutive kills by Forrest and Buckwalter pushed the Wildcats in front, 21-17. UMBC chipped away and trimmed the deficit to 24-22, but UNH held on for the 25-22 win to take a 2-1 lead.

The fourth set featured six lead changes before the teams were even at 17-17. From there, UMBC reeled off five straight and went on to claim the stanza, 25-20, to force a fifth and final set.

In that set, the squads were tied at 4-4 until New Hampshire netted four straight, sparked by consecutive kills from Brinkman and freshman Cassidy Croci (Sylvania, Ohio), for the 8-4 lead. UMBC fought back and eventually evened the score at 11-11. After the teams swapped points, UNH ended with three straight as Thatcher's final kill sealed the 15-12 win and five-set victory.  

The Wildcats look to keep it going on Sunday, Sept. 30 when they visit Binghamton at 1 p.m.

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