Katherine Claybaugh ended the night with 15 kills and 13 digs for the River Hawks. (Courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)
The UMass Lowell volleyball team had a strong showing against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, but ultimately fell 3-2 on Friday, Sept. 22 at Costello Athletic Center. The loss extended the team’s losing streak to five.
Gutsy play on both sides defined the night, and much of the fourth and fifth sets had the River Hawks and Wildcats in close contention. By the end of the fourth set, both fanbases in the stands knew that it was anybody’s game – and they were along for the ride.
It was the team’s first America East game of the season and UMass Lowell head coach Resa Provenzano believed that despite the loss, the River Hawks’ play shone through. “They were staying focused on gameplay, going for every ball, just putting in all kinds of effort,” Provenzano said.
Sophomore outside hitter Katherine Claybaugh commanded much of the game with her energy and power. Claybaugh, the team’s leader in kills, had a busy night with 15 kills and 13 digs.
Team captain Lindsey Visvardis also delivered a good game. The junior libero/defensive specialist had 22 digs of her own. Visvardis’s classmates, setter Delaney Mendez and middle blocker Lade Adeniyi, led the team in assists and blocks, respectively.
Provenzano said that going into the game, the River Hawks knew it would be a battle. They played accordingly.
UMass Lowell zoomed out in the first set, commanding a 6-2 lead early into the game. The team moved and communicated well, and their synergy caught the Wildcats off-guard for that first set. The River Hawks capitalized on early UNH mistakes, but did allow the Wildcats to tighten the score as the set went on. UMass Lowell took the first set 25-19.
The second set ended with the same score, but unfortunately was reversed in favor of the Wildcats. UNH owned that set as the River Hawks struggled to respond to their resurgence. The Wildcats took a 22-14 lead, but the River Hawks did score five points before the second set ended.
The two opponents were evenly matched and much of the game from the second set on was very close. The River Hawks kept it loose and cool as they charged ahead to take the third set 25-23. UNH had trouble responding to the River Hawks, especially when UMass Lowell would shake things up at the net.
Each point the River Hawks scored felt as if they had won – the energy and jubilation that they played with spread to the fans in the stands.
The River Hawks would fall in the next two sets and ultimately lose the match. But in many ways, UMass Lowell won the game.
“Other than not getting the win, I was very happy with the team,” Provenzano said.
The team played with more confidence than they have in the past and never let the Wildcats get too comfortable with any lead. Provenzano was especially proud of how her players conducted themselves.
“They wanted to leave it all out on the floor,” Provenzano said.
The River Hawks will play on Saturday night against Coppin State at 6 p.m. and hope to bring the same level of enthusiasm to the court that they did on Friday.
“We want to bring a lot of the same intensity and focus and good team volleyball… I think staying composed down the stretch is something that we want to really work on,” Provenzano said.