WILDCATS 0, GREAT DANES 3

BALTIMORE, MD. – The University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (16-12, 7-5) gave it everything they had this season but were ultimately swept away by the UAlbany Great Danes (14-15, 8-5) last weekend in the America East Semifinals.  

The Wildcats had the first set all evened up at 16 after a service ace from sophomore Hannah Serbousek but fell behind 23-19 after a quick run from the Great Danes. UNH has struggled to find momentum this season after dropping the first set and they had a hard time finding any consistency after going down 0-1 on Friday. 

The ‘Cats found themselves in an early 7-2 hole in set two and in what is a game of runs, they were unable to put anything together. The Wildcats were down around 6-10 points throughout the entire second set in a 25-13 loss.  

One of the big strengths of the team this year had been serving. UAlbany’s strong defensive play held the Wildcats to just three service aces all night.  

The third set was another chapter in the same book. UNH went down 10-5 early and lost by an eventual eight points, closing out their roller-coaster of a season.  

All year long, UNH has been a strong team at home and a strong team when they are able to build leads. Both of those igniters were absent on Friday. 

Losing the first and arguably the most important set in a close game really wore the Wildcats down the rest of the way. The first set is so important to set a tone. UAlbany was able to play the rest of the sets on their terms. 

“In all honesty, we really struggled to play like ourselves,” said senior Tri-Captain Kate Bilyeu.  “We had been dealing with different setbacks since the beginning of November and we couldn’t overcome them in time. Albany played a great game and it hurt to lose. I truly hope the girls remember the pain we felt this year and get after it next year.” 

It was a season to be proud of for the Wildcats. They were a streaky team that faced adversity and they still managed to consistently come out on top.  

“We faced a lot of different injuries and illnesses throughout the season which definitely took a toll on our play at some moments,” said Bilyeu. “I think our ability to come together as a team and perform in spite of those was a reason that we were able to make it as far as we did this season.” 

The most recent example of that adversity on display was the postponement of the Binghamton game due to Covid-19 protocols within the Wildcats program. Having any game postponed an hour before it is scheduled to begin is taxing enough and when you add in the elements of Covid-19. It being the last game of the year took it to another level.  

In her last collegiate game, Bilyeu took some time to reflect on the year it was for the Wildcats.  

“I’ll always remember the passion we had not only for volleyball but each other. I’m so thankful for all the girls on this team,” Bilyeu explained. 

She continued, “I’m also so thankful for the opportunity that UNH has given me these past three years. I’ve grown so much as a person through college volleyball, and I know I couldn’t have done that without my teammates and coaches at UNH. I will forever miss the time I had at UNH, but I think that is has given me a great foundation for whatever I decide to do next.” 

Head coach Christopher Feliciano and the Wildcats will look build upon their playoff appearance this season as the team is in search for their fourth consecutive winning season next year.  

Bilyeu said it best, “Even without the return of myself and the other two seniors, I think that this is a very special group and I’m really excited to see what UNH volleyball has in store for the upcoming years.”   

Photo courtesy of UNH Athletics