Linden powers Panthers in LEC loss
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Senior Ari Linden (Lena, Ill.) led Plymouth State University with nine kills, 13 digs and four blocks, but the Panthers fell to Little East Conference (LEC) leading Eastern Connecticut State University, 3-0 (25-23, 25-14, 25-21) Friday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.
The first set was a tight affair as the teams battled back and forth. Plymouth State held a 23-22 lead, but the Warriors fired back with three-straight kills to take the first set. With the second set tied at 10-10, ECSU used a 10-3 run to take control. PSU fought to the end in the third set, fighting back from an 18-12 deficit to pull within 22-21, but the hosts earned the final three points to earn the sweep.
Plymouth State fall to 8-17 (1-5 LEC), while the Warriors move to 16-6 and 6-1 in league action.
Plymouth State 0, Eastern Connecticut 3
Plymouth State 8-17, 1-5 LEC
Eastern Connecticut 16-6, 6-1 LEC
How it Happened:
* The teams went back-and-forth through the first set, with 12 ties and eight lead changes as neither team led by more than three points.
* Trailing 21-18, the Panthers surged ahead behind a pair of kills from junior Lex Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.), one from Linden and an ace by senior Kennedy Mang (Livonia, Mich.). ECSU evened the score with a kill, but Bowers answered for the Panthers to take a 23-22 lead.
* The Warriors answered with three straight kills, two from sophomore Alaetra Long (Lincoln, Neb.), to take the first set.
* PSU fell behind 9-4 early in the second set, but rallied behind three kills from Linden to even the score at 10-apiece. Eastern Connecticut pulled back ahead with a four-point run and PSU wouldn't get closer than three points the rest of the way.
* The third set was similar to the first as the teams went leapfrogged one another in the early going. ECSU used an 8-2 run to take an 18-12 lead but the Panthers clawed back. Junior Allie Rogers (Sandown, N.H.) kicked off the PSU run with a kill and the visitors got to within 20-19 on another kill from Bowers.
* Holding a 22-21 lead, the Warriors wrapped up the match with a three-point surge.
Inside the Numbers:
* Linden paced the Panthers with nine kills, while Bowers chipped in with seven.
* Three Panthers finished with double-digit digs, led by a match-high 14 from junior Alisha Flanagan (Milton, N.H.). Bowers and Linden added 13 apiece.
* Freshman Alexa Price (Moultonborough, N.H.) guided the office with 29 assists.
* ECSU sophomore Abby Stern (Manchester, Conn.) led all players with 14 kills, as Long and freshman Anna Barry (Andover, Conn.) each posted nine winners.
* Plymouth State is 14-20 all-time against the Warriors. The teams had split each of the last six meetings.
Straight from the Coach's Mouth:
"We played scrappy on defense," said head coach Joan Forge, "recording 62 digs to compensate for Eastern Connecticut's consistent offense. There were numerous long rallies and the score was close throughout the first and third sets, which made for an exciting match."
* Plymouth State plays a pair of matches at the Hall of Fame Tournament tomorrow at Smith College. The Panthers face the host Pioneers at 1:00 p.m., followed by Worcester State at 3:00 p.m.
* Eastern Connecticut also plays twice on Saturday, traveling to Salve Regina for a tri-match with UMass Dartmouth.
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