The University of New Hampshire volleyball (5-4) faced off against the UMBC (8-3) and Binghamton (0-9) over the weekend. The Wildcats came away from the weekend 3-1 and had head coach Christopher Feliciano feeling confident after three straight wins.
The first match of the day against UMBC saw the Wildcats lose in four sets, 3-1. The Wildcats struggled to get things after getting off to a strong start. Feliciano had this to say about the first match.
“In the first match we struggled to maintain momentum after a brilliant first set,” said Feliciano. “I felt we got away from our offensive game plan as the match progressed.”
The first set ended with the Wildcats winning 25-18 in a dominant set from the ‘Cats. It looked like the Wildcats were going to keep the momentum rolling; however, UMBC rallied and won the next three sets. Despite a match-high 16 kills from the ‘Cats in frame one, they fell to the Retrievers for their third loss of the season.
The Wildcats took on Binghamton in their second match of the weekend. UNH won the first set 25-16 and continued to flex their muscles on the Bearcats in the second set winning 25-11. UNH hit 37.6% in the match with the Bearcats struggling to stop the outside hitters of UNH. The Wildcats won the third set 25-15 giving them their third win of the season bringing their record to 0.50.
Feliciano was proud of his team after the win.
“Against Binghamton, I thought the team did a nice job recovering and took care of business,” said Feliciano.
The Wildcats had no time for rest with two more matches on Monday.
The first match on Monday versus the Bearcats was much more competitive than the one on Sunday. The match went all five sets with UNH winning 3-2. The ‘Cats got off to a hot start in the first set winning 25-20. Junior right-side hitter Ari Pola paced the ‘Cats in the first frame with five kills as part of her career-high 10 kills in the match. The Bearcats won the second set 26-24 and the third set 25-23 to give them a 2-1 edge over UNH. The Wildcats rallied and won the next two sets 25-16 and 15-12 to close out the Bearcats.
Feliciano said after playing a match like the one against Binghamton, there’s bound to be fatigue.
The match against UMBC on Monday night was the best game UNH has played so far this season. The Wildcats showed they were ready to compete, sweeping UMBC in three sets following the match against Binghamton. First-year libero Mia Pagliarini posted a 16-dig effort in the win.
The Wildcats won the first set 25-17. The Retrievers made an attempt to come back but the Wildcats stuffed them with a 25-22 victory in set two and a 25-19 victory in set number three.
After the sweep, coach Feliciano noted how impressive it was given the fatigue after the five-set match against Binghamton. He said the team looked like they were executing at their highest level and he wants the team to keep that kind of focus moving forward.
Junior outside hitter Kate Bilyeu was impressive for the ‘Cats in the victory leading the way with a team-high 11 kills and a .212 hitting percentage.
The Wildcats next game is against NJIT on March 27. At 2 p.m. That game will be televised on America East TV.
Photo courtesy of UNH Athletics.