DANBURY, Conn. - Plymouth State College fell just shy of reaching the Little East Conference Tournament championship match, falling to Eastern Connecticut State University Friday in five games in the first semifinal, hosted by top-seeded Western Connecticut.
The third-seeded Panthers and second-seeded Warriors, who have needed all five games to determine a winner in the previous two meetings this season, with each team winning once, staged a classic battle. ECSU captured the first two games, 15-13 and 15-10, but PSC rallied back to tie the match by winning games three and four, 15-8 and 15-9.
Eastern went on to pull out a 15-12 verdict in the fifth and decisive game, earning a spot in Saturday's Championship match against WCSU, a 15-2, 15-12, 15-1 victor over fourth-seeded UMass Dartmouth in the other semifinal. The Warriors improve to 17-14, while PSC is now 22-12.
PSC was led by sophomore Carin LaValley (Northfield, NH), who turned in a terrific performance and was selected to the All-Tournament Team. She recorded a match-high 23 kills and 25 digs, hitting at an impressive .404 attack percentage. Sophomore setter Jessie O'Hearn (Tilton, NH) registered 46 assists and 14 digs, and senior defensive specialist Stephanie Spiridakis (Belmont, NH) was outstanding with 23 digs.
The freshmen were solid contributors to the Panther effort. Middle hitter Becky Landry (Nashua, NH) had 17 kills and three blocks, outside hitter Bryce Budzinsky (Killingworth, CT) added 10 kills and two blocks, outside hitter Sonia Trudell (Somersworth, NH) chipped in with 11 digs and a team-high four blocks, and defensive specialist Amber Greenlaw (Gilford, NH) recorded 13 digs and a pair of service aces.
The Panthers are hoping for their first-ever post-season bid when the ECAC Tournament pairings are announced on Monday.