KEENE, N.H. - Olivia Mathieu surpassed 1,000 career digs and Megan Palmer matched a career-high in kills as the Keene State College volleyball team swept Western Connecticut State University (25-20, 25-20, 25-23) and Westfield State University (25-22, 25-15, 26-24) by 3-0 scores on Saturday afternoon at Spaulding Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 16-4, 3-0 LEC
- Western Connecticut: 13-4, 2-1 LEC
- Westfield State: 9-8
How It Happened - Western Connecticut
The block-happy Owls, who totalled 12 in the match, were paced by seven kills each from Emilyann Ashford and Ali McLoughlin. Elizabeth Johnson had six kills, nine digs and seven block assists, while Mathieu chipped in 24 digs and Bailey Wilson 28 assists, five digs and two service aces. Palmer and Sydney Johnson also tallied double-digit digs for KSC, who improved to 3-0 in Little East play. Western Connecticut got 14 kills from Nicolina Chenard.
The opening two sets played out in similar fashion, with Keene State falling behind early before surging ahead late. In the first frame, consecutive kills from Chenard helped the Colonials open up a 10-5 lead. The Owls came back, tying it at 13 after consecutive WestConn errors wrapped up KSC's string of five consecutive points. However, the the home team still could not find a way to get a lead, as WestConn continued to answer, eventually going up 18-16 on Chenard's ace. Trailing 20-19, Keene State roared to life, scoring the final six points to take a 1-0 lead in the match. A pair of kills from Wilson provided the first lead since it was 5-4, and a spike by Kelly Hunt wrapped up the set.
The Colonials opened the second on a 7-2 burst, but behind four team blocks, KSC scored six consecutive points to nudge in front by one. Elizabeth and Sydney Johnson combined for yet one more a little later, putting the Owls up 11-8, and KSC was not done there, with two Wilson aces highlighting five more consecutive points. Overall, Keene State flipped a 7-2 deficit into a 16-8 lead on the back of a 14-1 binge. A kill by Hunt and a bad set by Rory McMaster spread the gap to double-digits (21-11) and the Owls seemed in control, but WestConn made things interesting by scoring nine of the next 11 points to get within three. They got no closer, however, as McLoughlin's kill and Chenard's attacking error made it a 2-0 match.
A closely contested third set saw the Owls pull through late to complete the sweep. The Colonials once again got off to a quick start, building an 8-3 edge behind four kills. As they did all day, KSC answered, with Ashford and Hunt combining for a block that finished an 8-3 run of their own to tie it at 11. A pair of kills by WestConn restored a three-point advantage for the visitors a short time later, but three consecutive kills brought the Owls back again, and the home team eventually went ahead 20-18 on Hunt's kill. The Colonials tied the set twice more after that, including at 23, but an Ashford block and WCSU attacking error finished KSC's sweep.
How It Happened - Westfield State
Palmer filled the statsheet with 19 kills, tying a career-high, and 16 digs, while McLoughlin had 11 kills, 13 digs and three service aces in the day's second match. Mathieu recorded 29 more digs and Wilson 39 more assists for KSC, who cruised past their Owl counterparts. Westfield picked up nine kills from Shawna Crowley.
The home team got off to a quick start and set the tone for the match, scoring nine of the opening 11 points in the first set. Westfield clawed within 12-9, but three kills from Palmer helped extend the lead back to 17-11. Again WSU hung around, getting within two three times down the stretch, but two points from Elizabeth Johnson helped finish off a 25-22 set win for KSC.
A 12-3 run that featured eight kills, including six in a seven point span in the second frame, helped Keene State turn an early 8-5 deficit into a 17-11 lead, and the hosts cruised from there to a ten-point victory to go up 2-0 in the match. Westfield never got closer than six after KSC's big run, and the Owls closed the set with two kills from Wilson and one from McLoughlin.
The third set, which ended up requiring extra points, was closely contested throughout, with neither team leading by more than three points until two consecutive kills by Palmer put KSC up 19-15. WSU did not go down without a fight, as Shawna and Ashley Crowley teamed up for a block to make it 20-20, and Westfield actually went ahead 22-21 on Shawna Crowley's kill. Keene State avoided having the match extended any further, as a kill from Johnson brought up match point at 24-23. Another block helped the visitors force extra points, but Wilson set up McLoughlin twice to end the match.
- KSC has won eight straight against Western Connecticut (18-14 all-time) and 14 in a row against Westfield State (25-8 all-time).
- Mathieu, who has 1,051 digs, needs just 97 more to move into the top ten on the Owls' all-time career digs list.
- Wilson is 61 assists away from second on the all-time assists list.
- Keene State stayed home to host 25th-ranked Wesleyan University (Conn.) on Thursday, October 10 at 7:00 pm.
- Western Connecticut hosts John Jay College on the same night and time.
- Westfield State entertains Amherst College for their final home match of the regular season on Tuesday at 6:00 pm