PLYMOUTH, N.H. -- Plymouth State College withstood a gallant effort by Keene State College in the quarterfinals of the Little East Conference Volleyball Tournament Wednesday, winning in three straight games, 15-7, 15-12, 18-16 at Foley Gymnasium.
With the win the Panthers improve to 22-11 on the season and advance to the LEC semi-final round on Friday against Eastern Connecticut State University. Keene State falls to 12-25, although the match was much closer that the final score indicated.
In the first game, PSC relied on the strong net play of Carin LaValley (Northfield, N.H.), Bryce Budzinsky (Killingworth, CT) and Becky Landry (Nashua, N.H. ) to win easily, 15-7.
Then the sixth-seeded Owls gave the third-seeded Panthers all that they could handle. KSC raced to an early 6-3 lead in the second game before the Panthers came back to tie the score at nine. After four lead changes, PSC was finally able to break a 12-12 tie, scoring three unanswered points and taking a two-game advantage in the match.
Down 9-2 in the third game, Keene mounted an exciting comeback. After tying the game 12-12, the Owls took a 14-12 advantage and had several opportunities to win. However the Panthers, who were down 16-15, scored the last three points to win the game and clinch the match.
Leading the way for Plymouth State was LaValley, who had 15 kills and 19 digs. Budzinsky had eight kills while Landry added seven kills and six service aces. Sophomore setter Jessie O'Hearn (Tilton, N.H.) had 30 assists to aid in the winning cause.
Keene State was led by Marla Malinauskas (N. Providence, RI), who had 12 kills, seven blocks and three service aces. Sarah Doyle (Lake George, NY) added 20 assists.
PSC now travels to Danbury, Conn. and top-seeded Western Connecticut State University, which will be hosting the semifinals and championship match of the LEC Tournament. The PSC-Eastern Connecticut match is set for 6 p.m. on Friday. The championship match is slated for Saturday at 12 noon, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.