Panthers fall to Warriors, top St. Joseph's of Long Island
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Despite a nine-kill effort from junior Carabeth Norklun (Goffstown, N.H.), Eastern Connecticut State University earned a 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-15) sweep of Plymouth State University to earn a share of the Little East Conference (LEC) regular season title in a league contest at Geissler Gymnasium on Saturday.
With the setback the Panthers miss out on a chance at the program's first outright regular season title, falling into a three-way tie with the Warriors and Western Connecticut State for the conference's top spot. WestConn was awarded the top seed for next week's LEC Tournament after applying the league's tie-break scenarios, with ECSU earning the second seed and Plymouth State taking the third seed.
PSU will host sixth-seeded Southern Maine in a first round game on Tuesday (Nov. 5) with first serve set for 6:00 p.m.
The Panthers recovered from the setback to top St. Joseph's of Long Island in a non-conference tilt by a 3-0 margin (25-21, 25-22, 25-20) to claim its 30th win of the season, just the second time in program history the team has reached the 30-win threshold.
Plymouth State ends the day with a 30-4 overall mark and 6-2 record in the LEC, while Eastern Connecticut improves to 14-11 and 6-2 in the conference after also topping St. Joseph's, while the Golden Eagles end the day at 15-13.
Plymouth State 0, Eastern Connecticut 3
Plymouth State 3, St. Joseph's (L.I.) 0
Plymouth State (30-4, 6-2 LEC)
Eastern Connecticut (14-11, 6-2 LEC)
St. Joseph's (L.I.) (15-13)
How it Happened (Eastern Connecticut):
- The team's went back and forth through the first ten points until a four-point run gave the Warriors a 14-9 lead and forced a PSU timeout. The hosts extended the lead to 23-16, but a late rally cut the margin to 23-21 before the hosts registered back-to-back kills for a 25-21 win.
- PSU trailed by just one, 18-17, midway through the set before ECSU used a 4-1 spurt to increase the gap. The teams traded points the rest of the way with the Warriors earning another 25-21 victory.
- Eastern Connecticut got out to an early 7-2 lead in the third set and never looked back, coasting to a 25-15 win.
Inside the Numbers (Eastern Connecticut):
- Norklun hit .368 while registering her nine kills and added the Panthers' lone block of the match. Senior Lex Bowers (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) and junior Francie Shaffer (Frederick, Colo.) each chipped in with seven kills.
- Senior Alisha Flanagan (Milton, N.H.) paced the defense with 16 digs, while sophomore setter Alexa Price (Moultonborough, N.H.) tallied 27 assists, five kills and five digs.
- The Warriors offense was clicking, hitting a season-high .352 for the match.
- The setback marked PSU's first two-match skid of the season.
- Plymouth State has previously shared the regular season title in 2004, 2005 and 2011. Two of those three teams advanced to the championship game of the LEC Tournament (2004, 2011), with the '04 team earning the program's only tournament title and NCAA appearance.
How it Happened (St. Joseph's (L.I.)):
- The Panthers ran out to a 19-10 lead in the opening set and still maintained a 22-15 advantage late. The Golden Eagles ran four straight points to make things interesting, but PSU held on for the 25-21 win.
- St. Joseph's used a seven point run to take a 13-9 lead midway through set two. Trailing 22-19, the Panthers ran off six straight points for a come-from-behind, 25-22 victory, sparked by a pair of Norklun kills.
- PSU used a 9-1 run to seize a 20-14 advantage before rolling to the sweep with a 25-20 win in set three.
Inside the Numbers (St. Joseph's (L.I.)):
- Shaffer led the offense with eight kills, while Bowers and Norklun each added six.
- Flanagan tallied 12 digs, with Price totaling 27 assists.
- PSU limited the Golden Eagles to an .037 attack percentage.
- Plymouth State's only other 30-win season came in 2009, when the team went 32-6.
Straight From the Coach's Mouth:
"We didn't execute our skills well enough as a team to win against Eastern Connecticut," said head coach Joan Forge. "We were able to utilize the majority of our players against St. Joe's for our 30th win of the season. Nine different players recorded a kill to help us win."
- Plymouth State, the third seed for the LEC Tournament, will host sixth-seeded Southern Maine in an opening round game on Tuesday (Nov. 5) with first serve slated for 6:00 p.m. The winner will advance to face second-seeded Eastern Connecticut on Thursday.
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