Bailey posts 46 assists as Panthers hang on for 3-2 win
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University took a 2-0 lead, then hung on in a decisive fifth set win to outlast Emmanuel College (2-5), 3-2, in a non-conference women's volleyball match at Foley Gymnasium.
Senior setter Megan Bailey (Canterbury, N.H.) posted a game-high 46 assists and added nine digs while leading the Panther offense to a definitive fifth set victory. In the deciding set PSU had just two attack errors and hit .333, while limiting the Saints to an even .000.
"It was a wild one tonight," said head coach Chris Kilmer. "We had some players really step up in that fifth set. You never like to go five after winning the first two," he added, "but we showed some grit and saved our best for when it mattered the most."
Plymouth (6-4) fell behind 11-5 in the opening set before the Panthers used an 8-2 run to even things at 13-13. The score was tied at 14-14, 15-15, 16-16, 18-18 and 19-19 before PSU finally pulled ahead. A kill from junior Ari Linden (Lena, Ill.) and a Saints error put the Panthers up 21-19. Following an Emmanuel sideout, sophomore Alexis Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) got the ball right back with a well-placed kill. Classmate Shannon Howland (Delmar, N.Y.) took over from there, serving two aces in a three-point run to secure the 25-20 win.
Both teams struggled offensively in the second set. With PSU leading 12-10, Linden pounded two kills and added a pair of blocks. Freshman Nikki Flanagan (Milton, N.H.) followed with an ace to pull away. Senior Grace Sporer (Medford, Ore.) pushed the Plymouth State lead to 22-11 with a long service run and a Saints error gave the Panthers a 25-16 win.
The third set was tight until some strong serving from Emmanuel put the Saints ahead 14-9. EC pushed the advantage to 18-11 before the Panthers started to chip away. Another Linden block made it 18-14 and kills from freshman Carabeth Norklun (Goffstown, N.H.), Flanagan and sophomore Samantha Walker (Barrington, N.H.) pulled PSU to within 20-19. That was as close as the Panthers would get, however, as Emmanuel held on for the 25-21 win.
PSU opened the fourth set with a quick 5-1 spurt, but Emmanuel used another strong serving run to pull in front 8-6. The Saints took advantage of some untimely Panther errors to seize control of the set and pull ahead 16-9. Plymouth couldn't get any momentum and EC forced the deciding set with a 25-18 win.
The fifth set was all Plymouth. PSU led 5-4 when a Saints error followed by a block from Norklun and sophomore Allie Rogers (Sandown, N.H.) gave the Panthers a little breathing room. The teams traded sideouts and a Sporer ace forced a Saints timeout with the hosts leading 9-5. Plymouth rolled from there, with Sporer recording another ace, followed by a Bowers kill and another Norklun and Rogers block. Rogers and Bowers each added another kill to give PSU a 14-5 advantage and, following an Emmanuel sideout, Rogers finished the match with her fourth kill in just five attempts.
Linden led all players with 13 kills and added six blocks, while hitting .318. Walker and Bowers both contributed nine kills and seven digs. Sporer ripped five aces to go along with nine digs, and Howland added four aces of her own. Senior libero Brenna Peruch (Cave Creek, Ariz.) led the Panthers with 18 digs.
Rogers, who was a sparkplug late, finished with four kills (.800 attack percentage) and two blocks in the last two sets.
"Allie was fantastic," said Kilmer in closing. "She was one of many players who brought some good energy to the court late and that really got us going in the fifth set."
The Panthers have their first Little East Conference test of the year on Saturday (Sept. 16). PSU will travel to UMass-Dartmouth (12:00 p.m.) and will also face Curry College (2:00 p.m.) to complete the tri-match.
– 30 –