Panthers sweep Simmons before falling to Bates in four sets
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University women's volleyball team earned a split of its home trimatch, sweeping Simmons College (25-22, 25-23, 25-19) before falling to Bates College (14-25, 25-20, 16-25, 14-25) in non-conference action at Foley Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.
The PSU offense came out firing in the day's opening match against Simmons. The Panthers had just nine attack errors in the sweep and hit .303 for the match. Senior Claire Sporer (Medford, Ore.) led PSU with 11 kills (.391 attack pct.), while sophomore Alexis Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) added eight kills and six digs. Juniors Ari Linden (Lena, Ill.) and Jill Tiner (Salem, N.H.) combined for 14 kills and just one error in 34 total attacks.
The Panthers ran out to an early 7-2 lead behind the aggressive serving of senior Grace Sporer (Medford, Ore.) and sophomore Shannon Howland (Delmar, N.Y.). A Tiner kill put the hosts up 23-16 and Linden stopped a late charge by the Sharks with a kill to secure the 25-22 opening set win.
Simmons stayed close through the start of the second set, with sophomore Morgan Weeg collecting a handful of her match-high 16 kills. With the score knotted at 11-11, PSU got another run of strong serves from G. Sporer and Howland to build a 16-12 advantage. Simmons cut the lead to 20-19, but a kills from Tiner and Bowers coupled with a pair of Sharks' errors gave the Panthers a 24-20 lead. Simmons ran off three straight points to make things close, but Linden sealed the 25-23 win with a kill.
The Sharks jumped out to a 5-1 lead to open the third set before PSU scored six of the next seven points to pull ahead 7-6. The set remained tight and Simmons led 13-10 when the Panthers' offense kicked into gear. A run of kills from Bowers, Linden and C. Sporer put the hosts back in front, 16-14, and they wouldn't trail again. Senior libero Brenna Peruch (Cave Creek, Ariz.) collected one of her match-high 17 digs to lead to another Linden kill and a Simmons error gave PSU the final set, 25-19.
Senior setter Megan Bailey (Canterbury, N.H.) posted 31 assists and added a pair of aces in the win. Howland and G. Sporer each added three aces as the Panther servers had 10 in total. Tiner finished with seven kills without an error to hit an even .500 for the match.
In the opening set against Bates, PSU held a slight 11-10 lead after a thundering kill from C. Sporer. The Bobcats responded, running off four quick points. Bates extended the lead to 19-12 after a string of five-straight points and the Panthers couldn't rally as the Bobcats coasted to a 25-14 win.
The second set featured some of the best action of the day. Neither team was able to gain much of an advantage, with a Bailey kill giving the hosts a 10-7 edge early on. The hosts pull ahead 17-12 after a kill from C. Sporer and a pair of kills from Linden gave the Panthers a 23-17 advantage. C. Sporer closed out the 25-20 win with her fourth kill of the set.
The third and fourth sets both featured back-and-forth action early on and late surges for Bates. With the Bobcats leading 17-15 in the third set, the visitors used an 8-1 run to earn the 25-16 third set win. In the decisive fourth set Plymouth State led 8-6 before Bates rallied for 11 of the next 12 points to take a 17-9 advantage and the Bobcats held on for the 25-14 win.
Bowers topped the Panthers with 14 kills and 23 digs, while C. Sporer added eight kills and 14 digs. Linden chipped in with eight kills of her own, as Bailey posted 35 assists and 15 digs. Peruch and G. Sporer both also finished with double-digit digs, with Peruch recording 28 and G. Sporer adding 10.
With the split the Panthers move to 12-6 on the season. Simmons, who also dropped the middle match to Bates (3-0), fell to 9-9 and the Bobcats improved to 7-6 with the pair of wins.
The Panthers are back in action on Tuesday (Oct. 3) when they travel to Southern Maine for a key LEC match-up. First serve is set for 7:00 p.m.
– 30 –