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UMBC senior from Catonsville leaves volleyball court as one of the Retrievers top hitters

UMBC senior Hannah Schmidt amassed more than 1,000 kills for the Retrievers after leading her high school team at Mount de Sales to three straight conference titles.
UMBC senior Hannah Schmidt amassed more than 1,000 kills for the Retrievers after leading her high school team at Mount de Sales to three straight conference titles. (Photo courtesy of UMBC Athletics/Zach Seidel)

Injuries may have plagued Hannah Schmidt during her collegiate career at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, but that didn't stop her from leaving her mark as one of the top hitters in school history.

Although the Retrievers didn't make the four-team America East Conference playoffs, the Catonsville native leaves with the eighth most kills in history with 1,054.

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UMBC coach Ian Blanchard had high hopes for her after she was selected to the America East All Conference Second Team last year when the 19-12 Retrievers made it to the conference championship game, which they lost in five games to New Hampshire.

"Honestly, I said to Hannah last spring, 'I really think you could be Player of the Year next year in our conference, though we didn't foresee that her body was going to break down to the extent that it has this year and I think that's the only thing that stopped her from doing that," Blanchard said.

Schmidt, who led the Mount de Sales to three Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championships, battled an assortment of injuries all four years at UMBC.

"I haven't really had any serious acute injuries. It's all been chronic," said Schmidt, noting she has played through shin splints, chronic lower back pain, lower back spasms, a bone bruise in her right shoulder, hip flexor and hamstring injuries.

"Since freshman year I've had a chronic stress fracture in my fibula," said Schmidt, who played in 75 of her final 76 matches after playing in 24 of 28 freshman year. "Playing is the easy part."

She managed to play all 25 matches for the 10-15 Retrievers this season and was second in kills (216) to redshirt junior Krystal Mlemchukwu (234).

She had exactly 302 kills in her sophomore and junior seasons and led the team as a sophomore.

"She is extremely tough," said Blanchard, who chose to rest her from practice for several days before the final two matches of the season to give her body a chance to heal. "She was extremely upset with me because I haven't allowed her to practice the last two weeks."

The rest proved to help because she had a team-high 17 kills in UMBC's four-set loss to Binghamton on Nov. 14. That eliminated them from the playoff race.

Her high kill mark was 19 in came in a five-set triumph at Hartford on Oct. 5.

"It was by far her best performance the entire conference season," Blanchard said. "That match took a lot out of her and she didn't have a performance like that the rest of the season, but you can see the will was there and so was the intensity and the attitude."

Schmidt concluded her career in a three-set loss to Albany on senior day, when she was honored before the game with classmates Tanaeri Santiago and Kristin Cooper.

Three days before the match she had already checked her emotions.

"There will be no crying on senior day," she said.

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"She doesn't wear her emotions on her sleeve," Blanchard said. "She's the opposite of me. When she gets a big kill, she will smile and she'll turn to the rest of our team, but rarely will you ever see her pump her fist. She holds her cards close to the vest."

As a junior, Schmidt was part of a team that featured six seniors and they jelled all season before falling in five games in the conference title match.

"The main struggle for us was just our inconsistency this season," Schmidt said. "Last year, we had so many seniors play, and even if they didn't they were a huge support role. It's been hard for the team to get that leadership from the rest of the players, since we graduated six of them."

Injuries also took their toll.

"We got destroyed by injuries," Blanchard said.

Schmidt's leadership qualities came from her play on the court.

"I think she has the inner intensity about her. She does most of her leading through her actions," Blanchard said. "When she speaks I think it has a lot of value because people take notice of that because she doesn't do it as often."

Although she's aware of her accomplishments, that includes the 1,000 kills, it's not what she will remember most about her career.

"I haven't really thought about it that much, but I think I've helped the program develop and helped the program win. so I think I'm happy for that legacy," she said. "I'm happy that I can play with some of these girls that will lead the program on to bigger and better things."

Schmidt will graduate in the spring with a major in Biology and minor in health services and she'll continue coaching her 16U club volleyball team with the Masters Volleyball Academy.

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