WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Defending champion and second-seeded Plymouth State University was knocked out of the Little East Conference women's volleyball tournament Friday evening, dropping a dramatic 3-2 decision to Keene State College in a semifinal match at Eastern Connecticut State University's Geisler Gymnasium.
The third-seeded Owls, who lost to Plymouth State by the same score during the regular season back in mid-September, will play in the championship match for the first time since joining the LEC in 1997. One win shy of tying the program record for wins, Keene State (17-11) will face the winner of the match between top-seeded Eastern Conn. and fourth-seeded Rhode Island College.
The Owls had to overcome a two-game deficit to pull out the win. After dropping the first two games, 30-24 and 30-27, KSC was down 19-8 in the third game before rallying for the victory. The Owls came back to win game three 30-27. Gaining confidence as the match continued, KSC won the fourth game, 30-18, and the deciding fifth game, 15-11.
Seniors Becky Ciulla (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Kelly Landry (Nashua, N.H.) led the Panthers with 16 kills apiece, while classmate Stacy Therrien (Rochester, N.H.) added nine kills and sophomore Kirsten Willoughby (Plymouth, N.H.) chipped in with eight. Ciulla led the defense with 32 digs and five blocks, while Landry added 24 digs. Senior setter Amanda Bagwell (Riverside, R.I.) finished with 51 assists.
Plymouth State, which has shared the LEC regular-season title the past two years and who won last year's championship with a semifinal win over Western Connecticut and a championship victory over Eastern Connecticut, drops to 22-16 overall. PSU is hoping for its fourth straight post-season berth when the ECAC Tournament field is announced on Monday.
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