Shaffer's career high 22 kills spark Panthers to huge LEC win
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior Francie Shaffer (Frederick, Colo.) smashed a career high 22 kills to help lead Plymouth State University to a key Little East Conference (LEC) win over rival Keene State College, 3-2 (19-25, 25-19, 27-25, 19-25, 15-11) in a thrilling women's volleyball match at Foley Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
Keene State took the opening set by a 25-19 margin, but PSU rallied to win sets two and three (25-19, 27-25). The Owls followed with a 25-19 decision to force a fifth set, but Plymouth State pulled away late for the 15-11 win.
The two teams were evenly matched, but PSU's strength at the net, highlighted by seven blocks apiece from sophomore Jaia Woodland (Charlottesville, Va.) and freshman Emilee Flanagan (Milton, N.H.), helped slow the KSC offense.
Plymouth State improves to 24-2 overall while moving into a tie for first place in the LEC with a 4-1 conference mark. Keene State drops to 17-7 overall and 3-2 in conference action.
Plymouth State 3, Keene State 2
Plymouth State (24-2, 4-1 LEC)
Keene State (17-7, 3-2 LEC)
How it Happened:
- The Owls came out strong in the opening set, building a 21-10 lead in the early going. PSU ran off seven straight points to cut into the deficit, but Keene State was able to hold off the rally for a 25-19 win.
- Roles reversed in set two as the Panthers took an 18-12 lead through the middle portion. Keene pulled to within three points, 22-19, but three straight KSC errors gave PSU a 25-19 win.
- The critical third set was tight throughout. PSU took a 16-12 lead, but the Owls rallied to even the score at 18-all. Plymouth State went back up by four (22-18), but KSC fought back to take a 25-24 lead. Kills from senior Lex Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) and sophomore Alexa Price (Moultonborough, N.H.) gave the Panthers a 26-25 advantage, and an Owls' attack error wrapped up set three.
- Keene took charge in set four on the way to building a 10-3 advantage. PSU chipped away, cutting the margin to 17-15, but the Owls responded with eight of the final 12 points for the 25-19 victory.
- Plymouth State took a 5-2 lead early in the decisive set, but the visitors rallied with a five point run to take the lead. Trailing 9-8, back-to-back kills from Shaffer and a PSU ace gave Plymouth State the lead, 11-9, and the Panthers wouldn't trail again. Keene pulled to within one twice (11-10 and 12-11), but each time PSU responded with the next point and Price's kill closed out the 15-11 win.
Inside the Numbers:
- Shaffer finished with 22 kills and three blocks while hitting .283, while Bowers tallied her seventh double-double with 15 kills and 16 digs.
- Junior Carabeth Norklun (Goffstown, N.H.) added ten kills and four blocks, as Price handed out 47 assists and added a team-best 20 digs.
- Senior Alisha Flanagan (Milton, N.H.) tallied 19 digs and three aces, while sophomore Brooke Beaudet (Gilford, N.H.) added 17 digs.
- Keene State got 16 kills from sophomore Ali McLoughlin (Moorpark, Calif.) and 11 from classmate Emilyann Ashford (Silver City, N.M.).
- Senior Olivia Mathieu (Derry, N.H.) posted a match-high 28 digs for the Owls, while junior setter Bailey Wilson (Moorpark, Calif.) notched 45 assists and 10 digs.
- Plymouth State's 24 wins are the most since the 2011 team went 25-11. The Panthers' last win over Keene State came in the 2016 season.
Straight From the Coach's Mouth:
"The thing is not to get tentative in a big match," said head coach Joan Forge. "We had to be aggressive, swing hard and go after it. They wanted it and the mindset was in the right spot. We always play one game at a time, one set at a time and one point at a time. We've got two days to refocus for this weekend when we head down to Western Connecticut. I think, right now, they [the team] will go after this and I think there won't be a let up at all. It's really fun."
- Plymouth State heads to WestConn on Saturday (Oct. 19) for a huge conference match, as both teams sit atop the LEC with identical 4-1 records. First serve is set for noon. The Panthers will also face Mt. St. Mary at 2:00 p.m.
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