KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State College volleyball team, who is 20-3 at home over the past two seasons, made their 2019 Spaulding Gymnasium debut a happy one as they swept Elmira College (25-9, 25-17, 25-17) and New England College (25-19, 25-14, 25-18) on the second and final day of the Granite State Challenge.
- Keene State: 6-2
- Elmira: 2-5
- New England College: 3-4
How It Happened - Elmira
The Owls blew past the visiting Soaring Eagles in straight sets, and were off and running in the opening frame on the back of a 14-0 surge that saw the hosts turn a 6-6 tie into a 20-6 lead. Elmira stopped the run - very briefly - on a kill by Amelia Martin, before KSC scored the next four and reached set point after a kill by Megan Palmer and an ace by Olivia Mathieu. An Elmira error ended the set. It was the visitors who took control early in the second set, as they scored the first two points and did not trail until back-to-back Palmer kills nudged KSC out in front 17-16. The Soaring Eagles answered every Owl surge and led by as many as four, but were outscored 11-1 after they went ahead 16-15. Wilson set up Hunt for a kill for a six-point KSC lead, and the Owls went up 2-0 in the match on Palmer's spike. Looking for a sweep in the day's opener, the third set played out in a similar fashion. Elmira scored 10 of the first 16 points, but KSC got four kills, three from Sydney Johnson, to go ahead 12-10 and they never trailed again. Leading 17-15, a kill from Johnson and Palmer ace gave the Owls more breathing room, and they took it from there, finishing the sweep by scoring eight of the last 10 points.
How It Happened - New England College
In a match that saw just eight ties and two lead changes in its entirety, Keene State got a balanced offensive attack and ran past New England College in the day's finale. Palmer had eight kills and Emilyann Ashford seven, while Bailey Wilson had 28 assists and 11 digs. Shirita Wimberly paced the Pilgrims with 13 kills. The opening set proved to be the most back and forth, as the teams split the first 18 points, but KSC began to take control by scoring the next six in a row, three coming on kills from three different people and one on a Sydney Johnson service ace, for a 15-9 lead. NEC hung around, getting to within four twice, the last of which at 22-18, but the Owls got kills from Palmer and Ali McLoughlin to win the first, 25-19. Sydney Johnson served KSC into four straight points to open the second frame, which proved to be a runaway, as KSC never trailed. Two kills from Ashford and one more for Palmer helped the Owls to a 14-7 lead, which later grew to 18-8 on Kelly Hunt's point. Keene State took a 2-0 lead in the match with ease, never letting the Pilgrims closer than eight after that.
The third frame was close in the early going, as New England College fought back for a 6-6 tie after KSC opened with a 5-1 burst, but the Owls secured the next four points and slowly took control, going up 13-8 on a point by Sarah Williams. A pair of KSC miscues drew the Pilgrims back within three at 14-11, but the Owls rebounded and went on a 6-3 run finishing with an Ashford kill for a 20-14 edge. There was not much suspense after that, as a kill from Elizabeth Johnson sandwiching two from Palmer closed out the match.
- The two wins mark Keene State's third and fourth straight set wins of the season.
- The Owls finish 3-1 in the Granite State Challenge and are 16-8 in 24 GSC matches since its inception in 2014.
- KSC improved to 2-0 all-time against Elmira and 3-0 against New England College.
- Keene State heads to Colby-Sawyer College on Tuesday, September 10 for a match that starts at 7:00 pm.
- Elmira hosts Hilbert College on Wednesday, September 11 at 6:00 pm.
- New England College visits Regis College (Mass.) Tuesday at 6:00 pm.