Owls Fight Back to Top Thoroughbreds in Five Set Season Opener

Owls Fight Back to Top Thoroughbreds in Five Set Season Opener

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The Keene State College volleyball team overcame a pair of deficits and outscored Skidmore College 40-19 over the fourth and fifth sets to post a 3-2 (25-27, 25-19, 12-25, 25-11, 15-8) season opening win Friday evening at Blake Arena.


  • Keene State:  1-0
  • Skidmore:  0-1

How It Happened

Ali McLoughlin set a new career-high with 15 kills and added 11 digs and three service aces, while Megan Palmer chipped in 21 digs and 13 kills.  Emilyann Ashford racked up 12 kills and two digs while hitting .391, and Bailey Wilson had 48 assists, 12 digs, and three kills.  Sophia Hettler led Skidmore with 12 kills, while AVCA All-American Katy Ehnstrom had 11.

In what proved to be the most closely contested set of the entire match, the Thoroughbreds scored seven of the first ten points, but in a harbinger of things to come, KSC came back quickly, scoring five consecutive points for a 12-11 edge after Sydney Johnson's ace.  The Owls later went ahead by three (17-14) after consecutive kills from McLoughlin and Wilson, but never could get any distance, as Skidmore tallied the next three of their own and went ahead 20-19 on a KSC error.  Down the stretch, both teams had chances with set point, as the Thoroughbreds led 24-23 and Keene State 25-24 after consecutive kills from McLoughlin, but it was Skidmore who emerged in extra points by scoring the final three of the first set.

The second frame started off with much of the same, as a 7-1 run that featured three kills from Palmer for a 12-7 Owl advantage was answered with Skidmore scoring five of the next seven points to get back within two.  Leading 17-15, KSC closed the set with authority, as points from Johnson and Palmer made it a four-point lead, and later three straight kills from three different people made it 23-17.  Wilson set up Ashford for a kill to end the set and give each team one apiece.

From there, the match was a wild back and forth, as Keene State fell behind 10-2 in the third set and never got closer than five after that, the last of which coming at 15-10.  Skidmore quickly closed out the frame by scoring 10 of the final 12 points, including a 7-0 clinching run.  The Owls then emphatically turned the tables, as the fourth set began with a 10-5 KSC burst that featured four kills from McLoughlin.  A short time later, she dialed up an ace for a six point lead (12-6).  The Owls kept their foot on the pedal, as a pair of kills by Palmer and another ace, this one from Elizabeth Johnson, widened the gap to 20-7.  Kills from Hunt, Ashford and McLoughlin helped close the fourth with ease.  KSC outhit Skidmore .304 to -.071 while forcing a decisive fifth set.  Three kills and a service error helped the Thoroughbreds to a brief 4-2 lead in the final frame, but they were subsequently overpowered, with the Owls notching eight of the next nine points for a 10-5 edge.  The surge featured three kills from Elizabeth Johnson and two McLoughlin aces.  Keene State had no trouble after that, as the closest Skidmore got was four, and as soon as they did, Palmer spiked down a kill and an attack error gave KSC a season-opening win.

Service Aces

  • The Owls hit .305 or better in three of the five sets, and .234 overall in the match.  Skidmore finished with a .189 attack percentage.  In the final two frames, KSC racked up 16 kills against just four errors, while the Thoroughbreds had 12 kills and 11 errors.
  • Wilson's 48 assists matched the total of the entire Skidmore team.  She already has 1,941 assists in her career, good for fifth on the all-time KSC list.
  • The win was KSC's first in the all-time series after the Thoroughbreds took the first three meetings.  Skidmore, a member of the Liberty League, went 20-11 last season.

Up Next

  • KSC remains in Springfield to take on Montclair State University (10:30 am) and Brandeis University (1:00 pm) tomorrow, August 31.
  • Skidmore will match up against aforementioned MSU and Westfield State University tomorrow at 1:00 and 3:30 pm, respectively.