Panthers fall in LEC match to Eastern Conn., beat Maine-Presque Isle
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University women's volleyball team split a pair of Homecoming weekend matches, falling to Little East Conference (LEC) opponent Eastern Connecticut State University 3-1 (25-19, 18-25, 20-25, 14-25), before rebounding to sweep the University of Maine-Presque Isle 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-13) at Foley Gymnasium on Saturday.
With the split the Panthers move to 10-5 overall and 1-1 in the LEC. Eastern Connecticut, who swept the Owls in the day's middle match, improves to 8-4 (1-1 LEC), with UMPI falling to 4-9.
In the opening match PSU started out strong, earning a 25-19 first set win. The Panther offense rolled, hitting .314 while the Warriors were limited to .182. PSU maintained a slight advantage throughout the set. A kill from senior Claire Sporer (Medford, Ore.) put the hosts up 12-10. Plymouth still led by two, 21-19, when a kill from freshman Francie Shaffer (Frederick, Colo.) sparked a three-point run wrap up the set.
The Warriors opened the second set much stronger and pulled ahead 12-6. Eastern extended the lead to 24-14 before a late surge by PSU. A kill from sophomore Alexis Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.), coupled with a pair of Warriors' errors, made the final score 25-18.
ECSU jumped out to a quick lead again in the third set. The visitors took an early 10-3 advantage, but PSU rallied to earn ten of the next 15 points. A Shaffer kill and ECSU error cut the deficit to 15-13 and forced a Warriors' timeout. Eastern Connecticut responded, going ahead 20-17, then using a 4-0 run to earn set-point. Plymouth State ran off some late points, but the Warriors held on for the 25-20 win.
Plymouth State trailed 10-9 in the fourth set before the Warriors used a 6-0 run to seize control and the guests wrapped up the match with a 25-14 win.
Sporer was solid all-around, finishing with a team high 14 kills and adding 15 digs. Bowers added eight kills, with Shaffer and junior Ari Linden (Lena, Ill.) each chipping in with seven. Senior setter Megan Bailey (Canterbury, N.H.) led all players with 35 assists, and classmate Brenna Peruch (Cave Creek, Ariz.) posted a match-best 29 digs.
PSU answered with a straight-sets win over UMPI in the day's final match. In the first set, with the score 7-7, PSU used a 5-0 run to pull ahead. Back-to-back kills from Sporer put the hosts up 14-8 and another five-point run gave the Panthers a 22-12 lead. An ace from Linden and an error gave PSU the first set, 25-13.
The Panthers got off to a slow start in the second set, falling behind 6-2 early on. The hosts rallied to tie the score at 14-14, then pulled ahead 17-14 after a kill from freshman Elizabeth McLaughlin (Melvin Village, N.H.), forcing an Owls' timeout. PSU extended the lead to 24-19 before a quick run from UMPI closed the gap. A Shaffer kill gave Plymouth State the second set, 25-22.
The hosts jumped out to a 6-0 lead following a kill from Bowers to open the third set, and they would never trail. A kill from freshman Carabeth Norklun (Goffstown, N.H.) put the hosts up 11-5 and the rookie went on to serve five straight points, including an ace, to extend the lead to 17-6, before closing out the 25-13 win with another kill from McLaughlin.
Sporer was again the offensive leader for PSU. Despite playing in just two sets, she led all hitters with 11 kills and a .421 attack percentage. Shaffer added six kills, with Linden contributing five. Junior setter Kennedy Mang (Livonia, Mich.) distributed the ball with 27 assists and Peruch led all players with 18 digs.
Plymouth State is back in action on Wednesday (Sept. 27) when the Panthers travel to Nichols College for a 7:00 p.m. non-conference game.
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