Sporer's 20 kills secure first round home match for Panthers
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Claire Sporer (Medford, Ore.) blasted a season-high 20 kills to lead Plymouth State University to a 3-1 (18-25, 29-27, 25-23, 25-18) win over Rhode Island College in Little East Conference (LEC) women's volleyball action at Foley Gymnasium on Senior Day Saturday afternoon.
With the victory PSU improves to 18-10 (4-3 LEC) and ends the regular season tied for third place in the LEC with Eastern Connecticut State. The Panthers will be the #4 seed for next week's LEC Tournament, as ECSU topped PSU 3-1 on Sept. 23. Plymouth State will host #5 Western Connecticut in Tuesday's quarterfinal round. The two teams met just a week ago, with PSU overcoming a 2-1 deficit to win a five set thriller.
Rhode Island College finishes the year at 16-11, but its 2-5 mark falls just short of qualifying for the tournament.
Plymouth State jumped out to an 11-5 lead in the opening set, but the Anchorwomen surged in front following a lengthy service run by sophomore Kaitlyn Kopecky (Swansea, Mass.). The defensive specialist scored two aces in an eight-point run to put the visitors in front, 16-12. PSU would twice cut the margin to a single point, but the hosts were unable to get any closer and a late push gave RIC the first set, 25-18.
It was Rhode Island College that took an early lead in the second set. Knowing a win would guarantee them a playoff spot, the Anchorwomen built a 13-8 advantage. A kill from junior Ari Linden (Lena, Ill.) sparked the Panther offense, and G. Sporer served three aces during a five-point run to put PSU in front, 14-13. The two teams traded points from there. With PSU leading 24-22 the Anchorwomen fought off three set points and earned a pair of set points of their own, but a kill from C. Sporer and an ace from Bailey gave Plymouth the 29-27 win. Sporer had seven kills in the set alone.
|PSU Volleyball seniors and their families.|
The Anchorwomen took a modest 13-9 lead in the critical third set, but a RIC error set up another service run for G. Sporer. Linden and sophomore Alexis Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) teamed up for a huge block to get things started and G. Sporer added another pair of aces to put PSU up 14-13. RIC led 22-20, but a kill from Bowers followed by a block from Linden and sophomore Allie Rogers (Sandown, N.H.) evened the score and the Panthers won three of the next four points to earn a 25-23 win.
PSU found its rhythm in the fourth set. With the score tied 16-16 the Panthers got kills from C. Sporer and Rogers to pull in front 21-18. A block from Bowers and Linden, followed by a Bowers kill gave the Panthers match point, and a RIC error wrapped up the 25-18 win for Plymouth State. PSU finished the set with 12 kills and just two errors to hit .345 (12-2-29).
Linden finished with 11 kills and six blocks, while Bowers recorded her third double-double of the year with 10 kills and a career-high 19 digs. Bailey posted 40 assists and 15 digs, while G. Sporer finished with six aces and 13 digs. Peruch led all players with 20 digs.
"It wasn't always pretty today," said head coach Chris Kilmer, "but we played well in some high pressure moments – especially late in the second and third sets – and ultimately we got it done. We really wanted a chance to play at home at least one more time this year, so locking up the fourth seed was important. Having just seen WCSU last week, I'm sure Tuesday will be a heck of a match.
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