The University of New Hampshire volleyball team (12-13, 8-3) had a successful weekend at home, winning Friday against Binghamton (5-18, 3-7) and Sunday against UMBC (6-18, 2-8).
In Friday’s win against Binghamton, the Wildcats demonstrated how impactful their offense can be when it is clicking. Sophomore setter and reigning America East Setter of the Week Emma Patlovich continued her streak of success, posting a new career-high 65 assists on Friday. Patlovich led the Wildcats to their second-best team hitting percentage of the season, hitting .299 as a team. Patlovich’s success was recognized as she won America East Setter of the Week for the second week in a row.
Junior outside hitter Kennedi Smith recorded her 12th double-double this season. Smith had a match-high 18 kills and recorded 10 digs. Smith had a dominant hitting percentage of .568, meaning that she got a kill on more than half of her attempts. Smith’s efforts earned her America East Player of the Week for the second week in a row, and the fifth time in her career.
Senior middle blocker Gabri Olhava recorded 17 kills while hitting .289, along with gathering four blocks to her name.
Third on the team in kills against Binghamton was junior right-side hitter Hannah Petke, who had 15 kills while hitting a strong .528.
Leading the ‘Cat’s in digs was reigning America East Defensive Player of the Week, junior libero Emily Tanski. Tanski had 31 digs on the day, and also hit the season milestone of 1,000 digs. Tanski’s achievements were recognized again, as she won America East Defensive Specialist of the Week for the sixth time.
The win against Binghamton secured the season sweep for the Wildcat’s.
In the first set against Binghamton, the Wildcats took advantage of the Bearcat’s errors and jumped out to a quick 13-5 lead.
Binghamton could not stifle the Wildcat’s momentum, as they faced a deficit as steep as 21-11. UNH went on a 3-0 run with kills from Olhava and Smith, then ended the set on a service ace from junior defensive specialist Jenny Weston.
This was a particularly strong set for the Wildcats, as they recorded a hitting percentage of .571 and held Binghamton to a hitting percentage of .032.
The Wildcat’s surged again in the second set, holding a lead for the entire set after Binghamton won the first point.
Late in the set the Wildcats were leading 18-16. They went on a 4-0 run to extend their lead to 22-16, and the ‘Cat’s closed out the set 25-20 off of a kill from Petke.
The Wildcat’s had a consistent and strong attack from the right-side throughout the match.
Head Coach Jill Hirschinger saw an advantage on that side of the net. “It’s really hard to chase a middle hitter that’s going over there, and if they have to commit that way it opens up [Smith] and our outside hitters.”
The third set was an interesting one. UNH started out with a 12-4 lead, including a seven-point run headed by Olhava and Smith.
Confident in her team’s play, Head Coach Jill Hirschinger decided to make some extra substitutions in addition to the regular subs the Wildcat’s were already using from their starting rotation.
The Bearcats eventually tied it at 22 after a five-point run, and things were only getting started in the set.
UNH ran out of substitutions, so they were not able to put their regular front-row players in at the end of the set. Weston and junior defensive specialist Logan Welti were forced to play front row, and the team suffered because of it.
When the score was tied at 23, Binghamton clawed back to earn set-point five different times and eventually prevailed to win the set 32-30.
The Wildcat’s were able to regain momentum in the fourth set, winning it 25-16 with strong play from Olhava and first-year outside hitter Emma Tupa.
On Sunday, the Wildcat’s were struck by an energetic UMBC team. Despite their season struggles, UMBC came out of the gates attacking and earned a win in the first set.
The Retrievers held a lead as large as 19-9 and were able to close it out 25-17.
In the second set, the two teams battled all the way through. When leading 15-13, UNH pushed their lead to 20-16 with a kill from Tupa and a block from Petke and first-year middle blocker Maddie Wiedenfeld.
UMBC cut the Wildcat lead to one point late in the set, then UNH answered with a kill from Smith, then Olhava ended the set on a powerful hit to the left-side of the court. UNH won the second set 25-23.
The third set was owned by the Retrievers. They began with a 3-0 run, pushed it to 8-3, then the Wildcats fought back with a 6-1 run to tie the score at nine.
UMBC would not let UNH back into the set, as they embarked on a 13-2 run that created a 22-11 lead. They were able to win the set 25-15.
Down two sets to one, the Wildcats brought more energy in the fourth set. The teams traded points at first, then the Wildcat’s went on a run charged by two Smith kills and an Olhava block.
UNH’s momentum continued, as they extended their lead to 16-10. The Wildcats continued to pull away, eventually winning the fourth set 25-13.
In the fifth and final set, the teams exchanged points until the score was 3-3. Smith earned a kill, then UMBC committed three consecutive errors. Leading 8-3, Smith and Tupa recorded back-to-back kills forcing UMBC to call their final timeout.
The Wildcat’s blocked the Retrievers on the last two plays of the set to win the match 3-2.