PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The eight women's volleyball teams in the Little East Conference will converge in Foley Gymnasium at Plymouth State College this weekend for the 1997 Championship Tournament.
Competition begins this Friday (Oct. 24) with two quarterfinal matches at 5:30 p.m., and two more matches slated for 8:00 p.m. Play resumes at Foley Gymnasium Saturday (Oct. 25) at 9:00 a.m., with the consolation final scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and the championship match for 3:30 p.m.
The third annual event will include eight teams for the first time. Eastern Connecticut is the two-time defending champion, having won a four-team, round-robin format in 1995, and defeating Plymouth State in the title match in last year's seven-team, championship format tournament.
Eastern Connecticut, 19-8, also received the top seed for this year's tournament. Host Plymouth State, 20-9, is the #2 seed, followed by #3 Western Connecticut, 13-10; #4 UMass Dartmouth, 9-12; #5 Rhode Island College, 6-15; #6 Keene State, 3-15; #7 Southern Maine, 2-16; and #8 UMass Boston, 1-10.
"We're playing our best volleyball right now," said Plymouth State head coach John Garneau. "If we play to our potential, I really think we can win the whole thing. Eastern Connecticut will be tough, but we think we can catch them a little off balance. Being on our home court will help. It always does."
The Panthers have had their second straight successful season under Garneau. After going 25-3 in its inaugural campaign in '96, PSC brings a 20-9 record into the weekend. The team won 10 in a row in late September, including the title at the Roger Williams Tournament, and has now won six straight, including the championship at the UMaine Farmington Tournament.
At last year's tournament, hosted by Rhode Island College, PSC knocked off UMass Dartmouth 3-0 in the opening round, then upset Western Connecticut 3-1 in the semifinals. The Panthers' championship dreams were dashed by Eastern Connecticut, who had drawn a bye in the first round and defeated RIC 3-0 in the semifinals.
The Panthers are led by a trio of seniors - outside hitters Joyce Pochily (Belmont, NH) and Chantelle Renna (Belmont, NH) and middle hitter Megan Swenson (New Ipswich).
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