Owls outlast Panthers in another marathon battle
BOSTON, Mass. – Junior Bridget O'Bryant (Merrimack, N.H.) recorded a school-record 26 kills Friday evening as second-seeded Keene State College edged Plymouth State University, 3-2, in the semifinals of the Little East Conference Tournament at the Clark Athletic Center, hosted by top-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston.
The contest was another long and dramatic five-set match between the two Granite State rivals, repeating a similar encounter involving the two schools in the regular season match in Keene, N.H. Keene State won the first two sets, 25-19 and 25-22, and Plymouth State came back to capture the next two sets, 25-22 and 25-21. The fifth and decisive set went back and forth, with each trying to pull away, and the Owls pulled out three straight points after falling behind 13-12 to clinch the victory.
The Owls will play for the LEC championship Saturday at noon at the Clark Athletic Center vs. top seed UMass Boston in a rematch of the 2008 title match.
Keene State took the first set 25-19 and led 9-7 in the second frame, before going on an 8-0 run, behind the serve of junior Madison McHugh (New Hyde Park, N.Y.) to take a 17-7 advantage. The Owls owned a 21-15 lead in the set, before Plymouth State ripped off five straight points on the service of junior Danielle Stoodley (Salem, N.H.) to pull to within 21-20, but the Owls held off the rally for a 25-22 decision and a 2-0 match lead.
The Panthers owned a 23-19 margin late in the third set, before Keene State scored the next three points to come within 23-22, but PSU closed out the set with a 25-22 showing. The Panthers rode the momentum into the fourth set, scoring the first five points on the serve of sophomore Casey Stoodley (Salem, N.H.). PSU maintained a 10-4 lead, before the Owls soared back with five straight points on the serve of senior Sammy Datti (Durham, N.H.) to close to within 10-9. Junior Ellyse Davis (Londonderry, N.H.) was behind the service stripe when Keene State erased a 12-10 deficit with five unanswered points for a 15-12 lead. The Owls held onto a 21-18 margin later in the set, but the Panthers scored the final seven points of the frame on the serve of Danielle Stoodley to even the match at 2-2 with a 25-21 decision.
KSC clung to an early 4-3 lead in the fifth and deciding set, but PSU scored four straight points behind the serve of freshman Allie Jones (Canton, Mass.) for a 7-4 lead. The Panthers maintained a 9-6 margin, until the Owls swooped in for three unanswered points to knot the match at 9-9. The teams traded points and were tied at 12-12 until Plymouth pulled ahead at 13-12, but it would be the last points of the night for the Panthers as McHugh served out the set for Keene State for the 15-13 win and match victory.
O’Bryant added 12 digs to her night for the Owls, while sophomore Kristen Girard (Tivoli, N.Y.) spiked for 17 kills to go with 19 digs. Junior setter Laurie Whalen (Niantic, Conn.) directed the offense with 50 assists to go with 21 digs. Senior Jamie Levine (Medfield, Mass.) anchored the defense with 36 digs.
Casey Stoodley led the Plymouth State attack with 19 kills and 20 digs. Jones swung for 13 kills on a .303 hitting mark and added eight digs, while senior setter Sarah Cady (Holliston, Mass.) set for 45 assists and scooped up 17 digs. Danielle Stoodley was active on the defense with 35 digs.
Plymouth State is hoping for an ECAC New England Tournament berth, with the announcement coming this Monday, Nov. 8. PSU has made eight straight post-season appearances.
(Courtesy of UMass Boston Sports Information)
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