BOSTON, Mass. - Senior middle hitter Eliza Badeau (Foster, R.I.) smashed a match-high 18 kills on a .680 hitting percentage Friday evening to lead the second-seeded Plymouth State University women's volleyball team over number three seed Western Connecticut State University, 25-22, 25-20, 27-25, in the Little East Conference tournament semifinals at the Clark Athletic Center at UMass Boston.
The Panthers, ranked 12th in the latest Division III New England Women's Volleyball poll, improve to 30-4 to set a school record for victories in a season, topping the old mark of 29 set in 2003. The Colonials, ranked 15th in the NEWVA poll, fall to 26-8 on the season. The Panthers will play for the LEC championship Saturday at 12 noon at the Clark Athletic Center vs. number one seed and regular-season champion UMass Boston. UMB swept PSU during the regular season, 3-0, on Oct. 24.
The first set was separated by no more than two points through the first 30 points as the teams stood deadlocked at 15-15. PSU scored five unanswered points on the service of sophomore Meghan Sullivan (Marlton, N.J.) to take a 20-15 margin. WestConn responded with four points on junior Sammie Hathaway's serve to pull to within 20-19. The teams went back and forth as the Colonials maintained the one-point deficit, trailing 23-22, before the Panthers scored the final two points to take the opening set.
PSU opened up an 18-8 advantage in set two, but Western scored five straight times on junior Danielle Spangler's (Simi Valley, Calif.) service to cut the deficit to 18-13. Plymouth State stopped the run to take a 19-13 lead, but the Colonials reeled off five more points with senior Chrissy Bell (Prospect, CT) behind the service line to come to within 19-18. It would be as close as they would get as the Panthers scored six of the next eight points to take the set and a 2-0 match lead.
The teams exchanged side outs for the first 10 points of set number three and remained within three points of each other the entire frame. The Panthers owned a 14-11 lead, but Western used Hathaway's service to score five straight points for a 16-14 margin. The Colonials maintained an 18-15 lead until Plymouth State ripped off four straight points on senior setter Brianna Kleckner's (Terryville, Conn.) serve to take a 19-18 edge. The teams traded leads, but the Panthers scored three times to serve for match point at 24-23, only to see the Colonials deny them. Western Connecticut State also served for the match at 25-24, but Plymouth held it off and scored the final three points on Sullivan's serve to win the match.
Badeau committed just one attack error the entire night and added a pair of blocks for the Panthers, while Kleckner set for a match-high 40 assists in addition to seven digs and two aces. Sullivan spiked for eight kills, served up two aces and scooped up 10 digs. Senior middle hitter Carly Newton (Centerville, Mass,) contributed with seven kills, while sophomore libero Alex Avery (Milton, N.H.) anchored the defense with a match-high 15 digs.
Freshman Paxton Thornton (Sharon, Conn.) led the Western offense with 13 kills on a .303 hitting clip, while senior Becca Stein (Kingston, N.Y.) swung for nine kills. Hathaway directed the action with 33 assists and a match-high four aces and sophomore libero Kelley Collins (Massapequa, N.Y.) got down for 12 digs to lead the defense.
(Courtesy of UMass Boston Sports Information)
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