UMBC earns first trip to NCAAs in volleyball Retrievers rout FDU in Northeast tournament

November 16, 1998|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

With UMBC's top hitter, Lisa Cline, weakened by a shoulder injury, upset-minded Fairleigh Dickinson came into yesterday's championship match of the Northeast Conference volleyball tournament hoping to ease its way into an NCAA bid.

Instead, the top-seeded Retrievers quickly bid the Knights farewell.

Joanne Marshall and Megan McNamara each had 11 kills, and Cline added seven kills and a game-high 12 digs as host UMBC needed just 62 minutes to defeat Fairleigh Dickinson, 15-5, 15-4, 15-6.

The win gives the Retrievers (22-6) -- undefeated in conference play this season -- their first NCAA tournament bid. Pairings for the 56-team field will be announced Nov. 29.

With Cline, a two-time conference player of the year, unable to get much power behind her hits after suffering a pinched nerve in her right (hitting) shoulder after colliding with a teammate Thursday in practice, coach Catherine Lavery said other players stepped up.

"Lisa Cline is injured, but the other players just picked it up a notch a two and covered for her," said Lavery, whose team has won 10 straight matches while taking 30 of 31 games.

The lone loss came in Saturday's semifinals against Quinnipiac.

"I think we had a wake-up call yesterday," said Cline. "We knew that we had to come out here and play our best, and I think the score showed that."

UMBC dominated from start to finish, using superior serving (12 aces) and accurate passing to set up Marshall and McNamara up front. The Retrievers trailed only once in the match, falling behind 6-3 in the third game before rallying to win the final 12 points.

"This is something we've been working pretty hard for," said Marshall, the tournament MVP. "We've definitely peaked at the right time."

The Retrievers nearly made the tournament field in 1995, but lost a play-in to Central Florida. As a low seed, Lavery expects to face one of the top teams on the East Coast, possibly an ACC power like Florida State or North Carolina.

Whoever the opponent, however, she said her team will be prepared.

Said Lavery: "We have two weeks to train, and our goal is just to master all the basics and believe that we have a fighting chance."

Pub Date: 11/16/98

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