PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Seventh-seeded Johnson & Wales University won the first two games, but needed a huge rally in the fifth and deciding game Wednesday night to pull out a 3-2 upset victory over second-seeded Plymouth State University in the first round of the ECAC Division III New England Women's Volleyball Tournament at Foley Gymnasium.
The visiting Wildcats came out strong and won the first two games, 30-14 and 30-26. The Panthers regrouped and captured the next two games, 30-24 and 30-21, to force the fifth game.
PSU jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the decisive game, only to see JWU battle back to tie it at 8-8. From that point, the Wildcats took a one-point lead five times, but the Panthers answered with the tying point each time, knotting the match at 13-all. JWU won the next two points to pull out the victory and hand PSU its first loss on home court this season after 11 straight wins.
Johnson & Wales improves to 24-14 overall and advances to the semifinals, which will be this Saturday at the site of the highest remaining seed following all of Wednesday's first-round matches. Plymouth State, which was making its fifth straight post-season berth, completes its season at 19-14.
Junior Kelly Pfunder (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the Wildcats with 17 kills, while sophomore Alana Schloff (Chicago, Ill.) chipped in with 14 kills. Junior setter Audra Vaccari (Winstead, Conn.) finished with 49 assists, and junior Ramona DiFilippo (Galloway, N.J.) and sophomore Kristen Gawrys (Chicago, Ill.) contributed 26 and 20 digs, respectively.
Freshman Eliza Badeau (Foster, R.I.) led the Panthers with 18 kills and only one hitting error for a .425 attack percentage, along with four blocks. Sophomore Michaela Del Rosso (East Providence, R.I.) and junior Kirsten Willoughby (Plymouth, N.H.) contributed eight kills and four blocks apiece, while freshman Kathy Frankowski (Unionville, Conn.) and sophomore Regan Bowlen (Portsmouth, N.H.) chipped in with seven and six kills, respectively. Freshman setter Brianna Kleckner (Terryville, Conn.) registered 45 assists.
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