PSU Women’s Volleyball tops UMass Dartmouth to clinch playoff spot

PSU Women’s Volleyball tops UMass Dartmouth to clinch playoff spot

Panthers survive five-set battle on Senior Day

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Juniors Alisha Flanagan (Milton, N.H.) and Lex Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) combined for 25 kills and 35 digs to lead Plymouth State University to a thrilling 3-2 (17-25, 28-26, 25-17, 23-25, 15-10) win over the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in a Little East Conference (LEC) volleyball match on Senior Day at Foley Gymnasium.

            The win, coupled with Southern Maine's 3-0 loss at Eastern Connecticut State, clinches the sixth seed in next week's LEC Tournament for the Panthers. PSU finished the regular season tied with the Huskies, but own the tiebreaker thanks to a 3-1 win over USM back on Oct. 2.

            UMass Dartmouth controlled the pace during the first set and held a 23-21 lead late in set two before the Panthers fought off two set points to rally for a 28-26 win. The Panthers took the third set with a 25-17 win, and looked ready to wrap up the match in the fourth set after holding a 23-21 advantage, but the Corsairs scrapped back with four straight points to force a decisive fifth set.

            The Corsairs raced out to a 6-2 lead and still led 7-4 when the Panthers scored six straight to take a 10-7 lead. UMD rallied to tie the set at 10-10, but Flanagan notched back-to-back kills and moments later an ace from freshman Alexa Price (Moultonborough, N.H.) secured the 15-10 win.

            Prior to the start of the match, Plymouth State honored seniors Ari Linden (Lena, Ill.), Kennedy Mang (Livonia, Mich.) and Jill Tiner (Salem, N.H.) in an on-court ceremony.

            With the victory the Panthers improve to 11-19 overall and 3-5 in the LEC and advanced to the tournament for the 23rd straight year. UMass Dartmouth has its season come to an end with a 9-17 mark, including 1-7 in league games.


            The Basics:

            Plymouth State 3, UMass Dartmouth 2


            Plymouth State 11-19, 3-5 LEC

            UMass Dartmouth 9-17, 1-7 LEC


            How it Happened:

            * Strong serving from the Corsairs helped lead to the first set win, as UMD rifled off nine aces. Junior Nicole Silverman (Chelmsford, Mass.) fired three straight as the visitors took an 18-9 lead.

            * Plymouth State pulled to within 20-15 following a kill from Bowers, but the lead proved to be too large and junior Jillian Sykora (Waterford, Conn.) punctuated the UMD win with an ace on set point.

            * PSU started the second set with a 10-4 lead following a big kill from Linden, but the Corsairs chipped away ultimately tying the set at 19-19. UMD used a 3-1 spurt to earn set-point, 24-22, but kills from Linden and Flanagan tied things at 24-apiece.

            * Junior Jordan Rittberger (Huntington, N.Y.) put the visitors back in front with a kill, but junior Allie Rogers (Sandown, N.H.) answered for the Panthers, and a UMD error gave PSU a 26-25 lead. The Corsairs pulled even at 26-26, but a Flanagan kill and Corsairs' error closed out set two.

            * Plymouth played in front throughout the entire third set to pull ahead 2-1.

            * PSU held a five point lead midway through the fourth set, and still owned a 22-18 advantage following another Rogers' kill, but the Corsairs struck back with three straight points to force a PSU timeout. Rogers found the floor again to give the hosts a 23-21 lead, but a kill from senior Kristy Walton (Fairhaven, Mass.) and three straight Panthers' errors evened the match at 2-2.

            * Two kills each from Walton and senior Amanda LaCroix (East Freetown, Mass) helped the Corsairs to a 6-2 lead early in set five to force a PSU timeout. Trailing 7-4, Plymouth State got the ball back on a Flanagan kill and strong blocking helped push the Panthers in front, 10-7.

            * UMD scrapped together three straight points to tie the set at 10-10, but consecutive kills from Flanagan and another from Shaffer gave the hosts a 13-10 advantage and a pair of UMD miscues gave Plymouth State the win.


            Inside the Numbers:

            * Plymouth State hit .237 for the match, compared to UMD's .135, though the Corsairs finished with 14 aces, including five from Silverman and four each for Sykora and freshman Molly Porch (New Hartford, Conn.).

            * Flanagan pounded down a team-high 13 kills and added 18 digs, while Bowers also notched a double-double with 12 kills and 17 digs.

            * Linden and Rogers combined for 14 kills and just two errors. Linden added four blocks, while Shaffer finished with nine kills and four blocks.

            * Walton led all players with her 16 kills, while Lacroix finished with 10 kills and 14 digs for the Corsairs.

            * Price paced the Panthers' offense with 37 assists, as Rittberger and sophomore Riley Thomas (Fairhaven, Mass.) combined for 36 for the visitors.

            * PSU improves to 24-2 all-time against the Corsairs, including wins in each of the last 20 meetings.


            Up Next:

            * PSU moves on to the LEC Tournament and will travel to third-seeded Keene State on Tuesday (Oct. 30). Game time has yet to be determined. The Owls topped Plymouth State by a 3-1 margin in late September.




Plymouth State seniors with their families and head coach Joan Forge.



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