Panthers win comfortably in LEC opener
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Seniors Dani Tabor (Seattle, Wash.) and Kayla Wyland (Melrose, Mass.) and junior Claire Sporer (Medford, Ore.) combined for 35 kills to lead the Plymouth State University women's volleyball team to a 3-1 win over Eastern Connecticut State University in the Little East Conference (LEC) opener for both teams Saturday at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
The Panthers, led by senior Mikki Taffe's (Sandown, N.H.) nine kills and .692 attack percentage, added a three-set victory over first-year program Nichols College to close the day. PSU has won five-of-seven matches, and improves to 6-5 overall (1-0 LEC).
Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium, Willimantic, Conn. – Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
Plymouth State 3, Eastern Connecticut 1 25-13, 19-25, 25-11, 25-12
Plymouth State 3, Nichols 0 25-7, 25-15, 25-10
Plymouth State 6-5; Eastern Connecticut 9-3; Nichols 3-5
PSU LEADERS vs. Eastern Connecticut
* Senior Kayla Wyland (Melrose, Mass.) … 12 kills, .440 attack pct. (12-1-25), two blocks
* Senior Claire Sporer (Medford, Ore.) … 12 kills, 11 digs, two aces, two blocks
* Senior Dani Tabor (Seattle, Wash.) … 11 kills, five digs
* Senior Brianna Wojtas (Salem, N.H.) … six kills, .333 attack pct. (6-1-15), three blocks, two aces
* Senior Mikki Taffe (Sandown, N.H.) … four kills, three blocks
* Junior setter Megan Bailey (Canterbury, N.H.) … 35 assists, 10 digs
* Junior libero Brenna Peruch (Cave Creek, Ariz.) … team-high 18 digs
* Sophomore Alisha Flanagan (Milton, N.H.) … nine digs, three aces
GAME NOTES vs. Eastern Connecticut
PSU maintained three-to-four point advantage in the opening stages of the first set. A kill from Flanagan and an ECSU error led to a Warriors timeout with the Panthers up 14-9. Wojtas and Tabor combined on a huge block to push the Panther lead to 17-11 before an ECSU kill. PSU responded with a quick sideout and Flanagan served five straight points, including an ace, to inflate the lead to 23-12. An ace from Wojtas gave Plymouth the 25-13 first set win.
Trailing 5-3 in the second set, PSU rallied for four straight points behind a pair of aces from Flanagan, a kill from Sporer and a block from Sporer and Wojtas. The Panthers held the slim lead, going ahead 10-8 after an ECSU error. The Warriors responded with seven straight points to pull ahead 15-10 before a kill from Wyland stopped the run. Moments later consecutive kills from Taffe, Wojtas and Wyland cut the Panther deficit to 17-15, and visitors rallied to tie the score at 19-19 with the help of two kills by Tabor. The Warriors held tough, though, combining for three blocks and an ace to close the set on a 6-0 run to knot the match at 1-1.
Plymouth State used a 5-0 run on Sporer's serve to take an early 7-1 lead and cause an ECSU timeout. Taffe and Wyland combined for a pair of kills and a block during the stretch. An ace from Wojtas put the visitors up 13-6 and the Warriors took their second timeout. The hosts closed within 15-9 before the Panthers took over. Two blocks and a kill from Wyland, coupled with an Eastern error and kill from Sporer ballooned the lead to 21-9, and a kill from Tabor gave PSU the third set 25-11.
The Panthers took control of the decisive fourth set by opening up a 5-0 lead. ECSU cut the deficit to 8-6, but a kill by Sporer gave PSU the ball back. A huge dig from Wojtas led to a Sporer kill and PSU moved in front 11-6. Plymouth used a 6-0 spurt to erase any doubt and pull in front 17-7. Taffe and Sporer combined on two blocks, and Taffe added a third block with Wyland during the stretch. Not easing up, PSU added a 5-0 spurt to seize a 23-10 lead and an ace from senior Rachel Morrissey (Salem, N.H.) gave the Panthers the 25-12. Plymouth State never trailed after the Warriors won the second set.
PSU LEADERS vs. Nichols
* Taffe … nine kills, .692 attack pct. (9-0-13)
* Wojtas … seven kills, .385 attack pct. (7-2-13), three aces, two blocks
* Sophomore Jill Tiner (Salem, N.H.) … three kills, .500 attack pct. (3-0-6)
* Freshman Alexis Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) … team-high eight digs, two kills, one ace
* Freshman Sam Walker (Durham, N.H.) … three kills, five digs, one block
* Junior Grace Sporer (Medford, Ore.) … seven digs
* Flanagan … two kills, three aces, three digs
* Freshman setter Shannon Howland (Delmar, N.Y.) … 16 assists, three aces
GAME NOTES vs. Nichols
The Panthers took control early against first-year program Nichols. Flanagan had three aces in a four-point run to put PSU up 14-4. Wojtas served seven straight points, including a pair of aces, to push the lead to 23-5. Another ace, this time from Howland, gave Plymouth the opening set, 25-7.
PSU again used strong serving to take control in the second set. The Panthers opened up a 4-0 lead, before the Bisons responded to cut the deficit to 7-6. A kill from Walker stopped the Nichols run and a kill from Taffe would extend the lead to 15-9. Nichols responded with three straight points before another Taffe kill made it 16-12. PSU closed the set with a 9-3 run behind the serving and strong defense of Bowers.
The third set saw Plymouth jump ahead 11-0 behind Howland's serve. The rookie had two aces and classmate Bowers had multiple impressive digs in the run. A kill from Tiner made the score 14-3 and Bowers pounded a kill for a 17-5 lead. Back-to-back kills from Taffe, followed by an ace from Wojtas, wrapped up the 25-10 win.
Plymouth State @ Lasell College, Newton, Mass. – Tuesday, Sept. 20 (7:00 p.m.)
Eastern Connecticut vs. Wesleyan University, Willimantic, Conn. – Tuesday, Sept. 20 (7:00 p.m.)
Nichols @ Salem State, Salem, Mass. – Tuesday, Sept. 20 (7:00 p.m.)
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