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Panthers win title at Roger Williams Invitational

BRISTOL, R.I. - Plymouth State College has had a varsity volleyball program for only five years, but all five Panthers teams have captured the Roger Williams University Invitational Tournament title.

The Panthers won the 2000 championship Saturday by registering consecutive victories over Emmanuel, Regis, Rivier and Roger Williams. PSC continued its remarkable undefeated streak in the tournament, having posted an all-time tourney record of 22-0 (5-0 in both 1996 and ‘98 and 4-0 in '97, '99 and 2000).

In Saturday's pool play, PSC defeated Emmanuel and Regis Colleges, both by 3-0 scores. The Panthers had to come from behind to knock off Rivier in the semi-finals, 3-2, and then swept Roger Williams in the final, 15-6, 15-13, 15-2. PSC has defeated the hosts each year in their own tournament.

For the second straight year, PSC's Carin LaValley (Northfield, NH) was selected the tournament's Most Valuable Player. The sophomore outside hitter led PSC with 47 kills and 14 service aces in the tournament, including a season-high 17 kills against Emmanuel and six aces vs. both Emmanuel and Rivier. She also contributed 28 digs to the PSC cause.

Joining LaValley on the All-Tournament Team were freshman Becky Landry (Nashua, NH) and senior Stephanie Spiridakis (Belmont, NH). Landry, a freshman middle hitter, finished off 35 kills and a team-high 10 blocks, including 11 kills against both Regis and Roger Williams. She also added 34 digs and nine aces. Spiridakis, a senior defensive specialist, paced PSC with 47 digs, leading the team in that department in all four matches. She also registered six service aces, and came up big as a server in PSC's come-from-behind win over Rivier.

The Panthers also got strong performances from sophomore setter Jessie O'Hearn (Tilton, NH) and freshman hitter Bryce Budzinsky (Killingworth, CT). O'Hearn ran the offense, recording 119 assists (8.5 avg./gm) and 12 services aces, while Budzinsky chipped in to the offense with 33 kills, including a team-high 13 vs. Regis.

PSC is back in tournament action next weekend, participating in the Elmira Invitational Friday and Saturday in Elmira, N.Y.