Panther offense silences Monks in non-conference victory
STANDISH, Maine – Sophomore Alexis Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.), junior Ari Linden (Lena, Ill.) and senior Claire Sporer (Medford, Ore.) combined for 32 kills and a .315 attack percentage to lead the Plymouth State University women's volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-13, 25-10, 25-21) sweep of non-conference opponent St. Joseph's College (Maine) at the Harold Alfond Center.
With the win the Panthers move to 3-2 on the young season, while St. Joseph's falls to 1-3.
"We did a lot of good things today," said head coach Chris Kilmer. "I thought our defense was steady, we served aggressively, kept them out of system, and offensively we were solid in the areas we focused on in practice yesterday. It was a good team win."
All three hitters finished with double-digit kills. Bowers led all hitters with 12 kills while hitting a sparkling .429, as Linden and Sporer each dropped 10 kills. Freshman Francie Shaffer (Frederick, Colo.) contributed six kills while hitting at a .455 clip.
Senior setter Megan Bailey (Canterbury, N.H.) was spectacular, guiding the Panther offense to an overall .269 attack percentage and an average of 14 kills per set. She ended the night with 37 assists while adding seven digs. Freshman Nikki Flanagan (Milton, N.H.) led the defense with 13 digs, and Sporer notched her third double-double of the season after tallying 10 digs.
The PSU defense limited the Monks to a -.012 attack percentage for the match, while the offense hit .344 and .400 in the first two sets. Flanagan and sophomore Shannon Howland (Delmar, N.Y.) both went on long service runs to put sets one and two out of reach.
With the Panthers leading 13-11 in the first set, Flanagan went back to the line and served five straight points to add to PSU's cushion. SJC earned a sideout and quick point, but the Panthers got the ball right back and Howland followed with a six-point run to put the set out of reach for the Monks.
In the second set with the score knotted at 9-9, Flanagan again went on a long serving run. The rookie ripped a pair of aces in a stretch of 12-straight points to give the Panthers a 21-9 advantage and PSU would cruise to the 25-10 victory from there.
"Nikki and Shannon served great today," added Kilmer. "The two of them have the ability to go on long runs every time they step behind the line and today was a perfect example of that."
Flanagan opened the third set with four straight points and PSU would never trail. The Monks were able to pull to within a point, at 19-18, but PSU righted the ship and closed out the 25-21 win.
"We like how we've been performing so far," added Kilmer in closing, "but we know we have plenty more to work on. This group is really hungry and excited to improve."
The Panthers are back on the court Friday (Sept. 8) when PSU hosts the first day of the Granite State Challenge, featuring all five New Hampshire NCAA Division III volleyball programs. Plymouth State will face New England College (4:00 p.m.) and Colby-Sawyer College (8:00 p.m.) in Foley Gymnasium Friday, before traveling to Keene State on Saturday (Sept. 9) for the second day of tournament action.
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