In their second matchup of the year, the Wildcats (9-12, 5-2) again swept struggling UMass Lowell (3-18, 1-6) this past Friday in Lowell.
Leading the way for the Wildcats against the River Hawks was senior middle blocker Gabri Olhava, who had 17 kills while recording a strong .455 hitting percentage. Olhava also showed some versatility, as she had seven digs over the course of the match.
Other strong performances came from junior outside hitter Kennedi Smith who had 9 kills and 8 digs on the day, falling just short of another double-double. Junior libero Emily Tanski led the Wildcats with 19 digs, which was also the match high.
UNH beat UMass Lowell in every statistical category aside from blocks. UNH had 41 kills to UMass Lowell’s 38, and UNH also had a hitting percentage of .256 oppose to UML’s .156. UNH also won the serving battle with seven aces and only three serving errors. UML only had four serving aces and suffered five serving errors.
UMass Lowell struck hot out of the gate, taking the first two points of the match. UNH was able to tie the set at two, then the teams traded points until the game was tied at nine. UNH scored three times in a row to earn a lead that they held for the remainder of the set.
When ahead 20-16, the Wildcats lost three straight points which let the River Hawks within one point. This forced a timeout from UNH Head Coach Jill Hirschinger. Out of the timeout UNH won a point off of a UML attack error, which was followed by a block by Smith and a service ace from Tanski.
UML called timeout and scored two consecutive points to cut the Wildcat lead to one. Smith earned a kill to bring the ‘Cats to match point, which they converted on after a double hit by UML. UNH won the first set 25-23.
In the second set, UNH was ahead 4-1 early until UMass Lowell gained some momentum scoring three straight points to tie the game at four a piece. The River Hawks responded with a four-point run to take their first lead of the set.
The Wildcats regained the lead with two kills from first-year middle blocker Maddie Wiedenfeld.
The ‘Cats solidified their lead with more errors from UMass Lowell, as the River Hawks made three errors and gave up two kills from Olhava which was good for a five-point UNH run. The Wildcats won four out of the next seven points to take the set, 25-18.
The third set was the cleanest of the three. Both teams recorded their highest hitting percentages of the three sets. UNH hit .382 and UML hit .263.
After being down 5-7, UNH went on a six-point run fueled by three consecutive Olhava kills. Later in the set Olhava got two more kills and a service ace from junior defensive specialist Jenny Weston solidified UNH’s lead. UNH won the third set 25-20 and the match, 3-0.
Again, two Wildcats were honored by the America East Division. Gabri Olhava won America East Co-Player of the Week along with UMBC’s first-year middle blocker Becca Elrod. This was her second time winning the award this season. Emily Tanski won America East Defensive Specialist of the Week for the fourth time this season.
The Wildcats next game is Friday, Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. against Stony Brook in Stony Brook, NY.