Linden leads Panthers to win in LEC opener
DARTMOUTH, Mass. – The Plymouth State University women's volleyball team opened Little East Conference (LEC) play with a 3-1 win over the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth before besting Curry College in four sets to improve to 8-4 (1-0 LEC) at the Tripp Athletic Center on Saturday.
Junior Ari Linden (Lena, Ill.) led the Panther offense, pounding 13 kills against both the Corsairs and the Colonels. The 5-7 middle added six blocks against UMD.
In its opening match, Plymouth State took the first set, 25-19, and looked poised to take a 2-0 lead as a kill from junior Jill Tiner (Salem, N.H.) put the visitors up 22-17. The Corsairs rallied with three kills from Amanda LaCroix sandwiched around a pair of PSU errors to tie the game at 22-22. Plymouth retook the lead following a UMD service error, but back-to-back kills and a PSU error gave UMass Dartmouth a 25-23 win.
The Corsairs opened the critical third set with a 19-12 lead before the Panthers roared back. A UMD service error brought Peruch to the line and the libero served nine straight points to put PSU in front 22-19. Linden and sophomore Alexis Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) each had two kills in the run, with Peruch adding a pair of aces. UMD battled back to even the score at 22-22 and again at 23-23, before kills from Bowers and sophomore Samantha Walker (Barrington, N.H.) wrapped up the come-from-behind win to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead.
"We were great at the end of the third set," said head coach Chris Kilmer. "Brenna served tough and our offense started to click and that comeback really gave us some momentum heading into the fourth set."
Sophomore Shannon Howland (Delmar, N.Y.) got Plymouth off to a good start in the fourth set, serving eight straight points to give the Panthers an early 9-1 lead. UMD rallied to cut the deficit to 13-10, but that was as close as they would get. Tiner had three kills as the Panthers pulled in front 19-14 before a slew of Corsairs errors gave PSU a 25-15 win.
Bowers matched Linden with 13 kills and Tiner added eight. Senior Megan Bailey (Canterbury, N.H.) posted 37 assists and Howland chipped in with three aces. Peruch and senior Grace Sporer (Medford, Ore.) led the defense with 16 and 10 digs respectively. PSU hit a match-high .350 in the fourth set to seal the LEC win.
The Panthers got off to a slow start against Curry, dropping the opening set 25-19. PSU's offense came back to life, posting hitting percentages of .346, .409 and .360 to win the next three.
"We came out a bit slow against Curry and kind of hurt ourselves with some unforced errors," added Kilmer. "We made a nice run at the end of the first set to give ourselves some confidence going into the second, then got our offense running at full speed to close it out."
PSU trailed in the opening set, 19-8, before using an 11-4 run to cut the margin to 23-19. After a Curry timeout, the Colonels wrapped up the set with a pair of points to win 25-19. The Panthers scored points in bursts to control the second set, 25-14, then used a 9-1 run behind the serving of Grace Sporer and Howland to take a big lead in the third set, eventually winning 25-12.
Curry opened the fourth set with a slight advantage, but the Panthers quickly regained control when the tough serve of senior Claire Sporer (Medford, Ore.) ran a string of points. Freshmen Carabeth Norklun (Goffstown, N.H.) and Elizabeth McLaughlin (Melvin Village, N.H.) each had kills as PSU built a 20-14 lead and PSU cruised to a 25-18 win from there.
Linden's 13 kills were again a match-high, with Bowers and Tiner adding eight apiece. Norklun chipped in with seven kills. Bailey and junior Kennedy Mang (Livonia, Mich.) split the setting duties, combining for 43 assists and Peruch again paced the defense with 20 digs. PSU was strong from the service line, ripping off 14 aces, including five from Howland and four from Claire Sporer.
Plymouth State looks improve on its current three-game winning streak on Tuesday (Sept. 19) when the Panthers host Lasell College in a non-conference tilt at Foley Gymnasium. First serve is set for 6:00 p.m.
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