By ANDREW YOURELL
‘You can’t win ‘em all,’ the old saying goes. Unfortunately for the Wildcat seniors, they learned that lesson on a day that was meant to celebrate their four years as UNH volleyball student-athletes.
The University at Albany Great Danes spoiled the occasion, sweeping the Wildcats in three sets (25-18, 25-23, 25-22) to tie the Wildcats atop the America East standings at 8-1. Albany’s lone loss was a similar 3-0 sweep to the Wildcats in Albany’s home gym.
“[Albany] just played really well,” UNH head coach Jill Hirschinger said after her team’s 10-game win streak ended. “They were mistake free. I thought they worked really hard off the ball.”
Albany fended off UNH’s .357 attack percentage in the first set by logging a .435 attack percentage of its own. UNH has held opponents to a .163 attack percentage this season.
UNH honored its six senior players before the game, recognizing Abby Brinkman, Brenna Buckwalter, Cassidy Croci, Tori Forrest, Maggie Kenney and Madison Lightfoot, along with manager Mac Barron, for their contributions to the program.
Despite the loss, Hirschinger wanted the focus to stay positive on the senior class, which has been the backbone of this year’s team and of the two America East championship-winning teams in 2013 and 2014.
“We’ve won two conference championships during their tenure,” she said. “I give them a lot of credit on what they’ve made this program. They’ve really worked hard, both on the court and off the court.”
Despite their coach’s praise, the loss stung the seniors. UNH had held sole possession of the No. 1 seed in the conference, which would allow the Wildcats to host the conference championships if they maintained their position. Now, tied with Albany with three matches left apiece, the site of the playoffs is in question.
Madison Lightfoot, one of the team’s co-captains, said that the loss is going to be motivation for the team to finish the season out strong.
“It’s something we’re going to learn from, something we’re going to grow from,” she said. “We’re going to be better because of it and we still have three more regular season conference games to play, so we’re going to get in the gym this week, get after it and come out even better next week.”
On Friday, the Wildcats travel to UMass Lowell to take on the Riverhawks. As for her team’s place in the standings, Hirschinger isn’t concerned.
“We’ve got to win the rest of our matches and then we’ll figure that out.”
Win streak ends
By ANDREW YOURELL