Balanced attack sends Panthers to semifinals vs. Keene State
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University had four players post double-digit kills Tuesday evening as the third-seeded Panthers held off sixth-seeded University of Southern Maine, 3-2, in a Little East Conference Women's Volleyball Tournament quarterfinal match at PSU's Foley Gymnasium.
Senior Kaitlyn Tedeschi (Pascoag, R.I.) led the way for the Panthers with 18 kills, while junior Jana Nieman (Fair Lawn, N.J.) added 14 winners and freshmen Mikki Taffe (Sandown, N.H.) and Katie Sylvia (Lee, N.H.) contributed 10 kills each.
The Panthers improve to 17-15 overall and advance to the LEC semifinals this Saturday at the University of Massachusetts Boston. PSU will meet third-seeded Keene State College in the 3:00 p.m. match, following the 12 noon encounter between fourth-seeded Western Connecticut State University and top-seeded UMB. Sunday's championship match is slated for 12 noon at UMB.
The Huskies got 15 kills from freshman Kristina Rubico (Chelmsford, Mass.) and eight kills from sophomore Jessica Garrett (Waterboro, Maine) but fell to 22-11 overall. USM, which showed great improvement this season after finishing 9-22 a year ago, is holding out hope for an ECAC post-season berth, which will be announced next week.
Upset-minded USM came out strong in the first set and led most of the way. PSU came back to tie the set at 21-21, and had the first chance to close it out with a 24-23 lead. The teams see-sawed back and forth, with each team having four set points, before USM finished off the set, 32-30.
Plymouth State took control of the second set and led 10-5 early on. USM whittle the margin down to two points (13-11), but PSU pulled ahead 22-17. The Panthers maintained the advantage and pulled out a 25-21 decision to even the match.
Just two points separated the two teams through the first half of the third set until Southern Maine went on a little roll, pulling ahead16-12. The Huskies maintained the lead the rest of the way, winning the third set, 25-20. PSU would not go down easy, and jumped out to a 14-5 lead in the fourth set en route to a 25-11 verdict to force a fifth set.
Tedeschi and Nieman took over for PSU in the fifth set, helping the home team to an 8-4 lead when the teams switched sides. The Panthers scored the next five points and went on to clinch the match with a 15-8 outcome in the decisive fifth set.
The Panthers had some outstanding defensive performances, as senior Cassie Pelton (Brookline, N.H.) and Sylvia recorded 24 and 23 digs, respectively. Taffe contributed six blocks for PSU and Tedeschi added five.
Six Huskies reached double figures in digs, led by sophomore Renee Trottier (Biddeford, Maine) with 17 and classmate Demi Ruder (Clifton, Colo.) with 16. Freshman Alyssa Melanson (Merrimack, N.H) posted a team-high four blocks.
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