Panthers ready to open season on Friday
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University women's volleyball team was picked to finish seventh in the Little East Conference (LEC) in 2019 following a vote of the league's nine head coaches.
Eastern Connecticut, which captured the LEC championship last fall, was picked to defend its title after receiving six first place votes and 61 points. UMass Boston grabbed a pair of first place votes for 56 points, while Keene State (53 points) nabbed the final first place vote.
WestConn (37 points) narrowly edged out Southern Maine (36 points) for fourth place in the poll, while Rhode Island College (30 points) finished just ahead of PSU (28 points) to end up sixth. UMass Dartmouth (15 points) and Castleton (8 points) rounded out the poll.
Second-year head coach Joan Forge is hoping the development of her returning cast and a handful of new faces will help lead the Panthers to a 24th-straight trip to the postseason. PSU, Eastern Connecticut and WestConn are the only Little East programs to qualify for the conference tournament every year since its inception in 1996. Forge welcomes back 12 players from last year's squad, while the additions of three freshmen and a transfer should pay immediate dividends on the court.
Seniors Alisha Flanagan (Milton, N.H.), Allie Rogers (Sandown, N.H.) and Lex Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) will serve as the team's captains. Flanagan finished second on the team with 3.20 digs/set as an outside hitter last fall and should rank among the top defensive players in the league after shifting to libero this fall. She will be joined by three returners and a freshman to help support the Panthers' back row.
Rogers and sophomore transfer Jaia Woodland (Charlottesville, Va.) provide offense and blocking on the right side, while Bowers was the team's top offensive option last fall, leading the team with 198 kills (1.90/set). Junior Francie Shaffer (Frederick, Colo.) also registered more than 100 kills for the Panthers after finishing her sophomore season with 125.
Junior Carabeth Norklun (Goffstown, N.H.) led the team with a .255 attack percentage last fall. She along with the additions of freshmen Emilee Flanagan (Milton, N.H.) and Natalie Gravelle (Portsmouth, N.H.) will give the Panthers a solid combination at middle blocker.
Sophomore Alexa Price (Moultonborough, N.H.) is expected to pilot the offense as the primary setter. She led the team with 456 assists (6.25/set) last fall.
Plymouth State opens the season with four matches at the Best Western Plus-Ground Round Cardinal Classic hosted by Plattsburgh State this weekend. The Panthers open with matches against Sage and Colby-Sawyer on Friday, Aug. 30, then wrap up the weekend against Hartwick and the host Cardinals on Saturday, Aug. 31. PSU makes its home debut with a pair of matches as part of the Granite State Challenge on Friday, Sept. 6, with games at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
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