LOS ANGELES -- UMBC entered its NCAA playoff match with host Southern California last night with the highest of hopes, but, the end, saw them dashed.
Even though the Retrievers had never before participated in the playoffs, they had faced four teams that advanced to the elite tournament.
And with the exception of a three-game sweep by Texas Tech in September, UMBC had more than held its own against some worthy opponents, defeating Wisconsin-Milwaukee and extending Georgetown and American to the limit before losing.
None of those teams, however, was at the same level as USC (23-5), which ended the Retrievers' season with a 15-3, 15-5, 15-10 sweep in front of 633 fans at the Lyon Center.
"I think we did what we wanted," UMBC coach Catherine Lavery lTC said. "We showed them we aren't some podunk school on the East Coast."
USC coach Lisa Love agreed, complimenting the Retrievers on their defensive skills in her postgame comments.
But there was no doubt the Trojans were better.
USC, which is No. 10 in the country, according to the latest USA Today/AVCA Top 25 Poll, has won 19 of its last 21 matches.
UMBC's talented trio of LaNae Baker (26 assists), Lisa Cline (seven kills) and Megan McNamara (six kills) could do little to stop the powerful attack of the Women of Troy.
After assuming a 3-2 lead in Game 1, USC reeled off 13 straight points to capture the opener.
It used a similar surge to put away the Retrievers in Game 2. UMBC scored a point off a touch at the net to make the score 2-1 and then watched its opponent score eight straight points.
Service errors hurt UMBC in each game, with the Retrievers committing five in the first game and five more in Games 2 and 3.
Joanne Marshall had a team-high 11 kills for UMBC.
UMBC, which had won 10 straight matches prior to the USC meeting, ended its season at 22-6.
"We started out strong," Lavery said. "I think we even surprised ourselves. But slowly our system broke down and we lost a bit of our confidence.
"But that's OK. We'll be back here again."
Pub Date: 12/05/98