SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Plymouth State University women's volleyball team kept its terrific season going Friday night, winning two matches in five sets apiece at the annual Tom Hay Invitational, hosted by Springfield College.
Facing some of their stiffest competition of the season, the Panthers defeated Western New England College in the first match (20-15, 25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 15-11) and followed with a thrilling victory over host Springfield (16-25, 20-25, 26-24, 25-15, 16-14). PSU, which is ranked 11th in New England, improved to 20-1 on the season, while Springfield, which is ranked fourth in New England, had its 10-match winning streak broken and is now 19-3. WNEC, which came back to defeat Westfield State, 3-2, is now 16-7.
In PSU's dramatic win over Springfield, senior Eliza Badeau (Foster, R.I.) was unstoppable as she pounded out 22 kills, hitting an even .500 for the match. Sophomore Meghan Sullivan (Marlton, N.J.) added 15 kills as the only other member of the squad to record double-digit kills. Both Sullivan and classmate Alex Avery (Milton, N.H./Nute) finished with 21 digs. Senior Brianna Kleckner (Terryville, Conn.) directed PSU's offense with 47 assists to go along with 18 digs and three blocks.
Junior Sarah Lang-Rodean (Mansfield Center, Conn.) paced the Pride attack with 22 kills, hitting .383, to go along with five blocks and four aces. Junior Heather Lively (Royalston, Mass.) added 16 kills and 13 digs and Lauren Torvi (North Smithfield, R.I.) chipped in with 14 kills. Meaghan Hart (Stony Brook, N.Y.) was tremendous on defense as she registered 34 digs, and junior Kelsey Hellyar (Fairhaven, Mass.) handed out 53 assists and recorded six aces in the loss.
After dropping the first set, PSU led 18-11 in the second before Springfield staged a tremendous comeback to win 25-20 to go up two sets. The tables were turned on the hosts in the third game as Plymouth State answered with an incredible comeback of its own. Trailing 19-11, the Panthers took advantage of Springfield errors and an offense that had found its rhythm to take the third set. Hitting .303 as a team in the frame, Badeau led the way with five kills.
The Panthers carried over the momentum into the fourth set as it won 25-15. PSU hit .355 in the frame and limited Springfield to a .119 attack percentage as it evened the match at two sets apiece. Senior Carly Newton (Centerville, Mass.) notched a pair of blocks in the set to pace the defensive effort for the visitors.
Springfield came out into the fifth set poised as it raced out to a 5-1 lead as Lang-Rodean tallied three quick kills. A big kill from Lively gave Springfield an 8-4 lead at the switch and Hellyar tacked on another ace to give SC a 9-4 lead. However, Plymouth State mounted a furious comeback, tying the game at 11-all after a Newton kill. SC used a pair of Lang-Rodean kills to own a two-point advantage at 13-11. The Panthers chipped away as a Sullivan kill and an ace by senior Kathy Frankowski (Farmington, Conn.) tied the set up. Lang-Rodean once again came up huge for the Pride as her 22nd kill of the night gave Springfield match point, but it was unable to convert. An unlikely point gave PSU match point as Avery made a terrific dig on Lively that sailed over the net and found the court. Kleckner and Newton then closed the door on the match as they combined for a double block to give PSU the five-game win.
The Panthers had three players reach double figures in kills in the win over WNEC. Badeau topped the team with 13, while senior Megan Elliott (West Haven, Conn.) added 11 and Sullivan had 10. Three Panthers also reached double digits in digs, as Frankowski and Alex Avery recorded 18 and 17, respectively, and junior Kelsey Petty (Salem, N.H.) chipped in with 10.
Kleckner, who ranks among the NCAA leaders in assists, finished with 47 assists and nine digs for PSU in the win.
Plymouth State will play two more matches in the tournament Saturday, facing Westfield State at 12 noon and Colby-Sawyer College at 3:00 p.m.
(Courtesy of Springfield Sports Information)
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