Panthers cruise into Sunday's championship match
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Casey Stoodley and sophomore Allie Jones combined for 28 kills with just one hitting error Saturday afternoon as top-seeded Plymouth State University swept fifth-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University, 3-0, in the first semifinal of the Little East Conference Volleyball Tournament at PSU's Foley Gymnasium.
Stoodley smacked 16 kills with no errors (.516 attack percentage) while Jones contributed 12 kills and just one error (.579). They led a Panther team that posted a dazzling .405 attack percentage, second highest in a match this season.
The Panthers improve to 23-9 overall and advance to Sunday's LEC Championship match at 12 noon at Foley Gymnasium. PSU will meets second-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston after the Beacons defeated third-seeded Keene State College in the other semifinal, 3-1.
Senior setter Sarah Cady had an excellent match for PSU, finishing with 40 assists. PSU also got seven kills from senior Meghan Sullivan, six from sophomore Kaitlyn Tedeschi and five from junior Elissa Morin, and senior Danielle Stoodley recorded a team-high 16 digs.
The visiting Warriors were led by senior Samantha Slonski, who smashed 12 kills while collecting nine digs and 11 assists. Junior Katie Wilson chipped in with nine kills and senior Kristianna Ibsen added five kills and a match-high three service aces. Senior Taylor Abelli and sophomore Erynn Miller paced the back row defenders with 13 and 11 digs, respectively.
PSU jumped out to a quick five-point lead in the first set, and maintained the lead the whole way. Eastern rallied midway through the set to pull within a point at 18-17, but PSU won five of the next six points to pull away. Slonski added a pair of kills to keep Eastern close, but a Tedeschi kill and Allie Jones block closed out the set, 25-21.
The second set was another tight battle. PSU never trailed, but didn't lead by more than four points until the end. Eastern was within two points at 14-12 when on a 6-2 run to open up a 20-14 margin. Morin added a pair of kills and Tedeschi and Cady added a block to finish off the set, 25-17.
With their eyes on the win, the Panthers opened up a five-point early in the third set. Eastern played tough, rallying to cut the deficit to 11-9, but PSU took over at that point with eight of the next 10 points to make it 18-11. Sullivan smashed two more kills for PSU and the Panthers closed out the match, 25-18.
Sunday's championship meeting is a rematch of the regular season contest between UMB and PSU on Oct. 25 in Boston, when PSU upset the 18th-ranked Beacons, 3-0, to earn the top seed in the tournament.
-- 30 --