KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State College volleyball team split a Saturday tri-match at Spaulding Gymnasium, falling to Eastern Connecticut State University 3-0 (22-25, 25-27, 23-25) in a key Little East Conference match before beating Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts by the same score (25-14, 25-16, 25-18).
- Keene State: 17-6, 3-1 LEC
- Eastern Connecticut: 10-7, 4-1 LEC
- MCLA: 13-7
How It Happened - Eastern Connecticut
In a three-set match that saw 18 ties and 11 lead changes, the Warriors came through late in each of the three sets, sweeping the Owls to move into first place in the conference at 4-1, a half-game better than Plymouth State, Western Connecticut and Keene State. KSC was paced in the match by Ali McLoughlin's nine kills on .241 hitting and seven digs, while Megan Palmer chipped in eight kills and 12 digs. Olivia Mathieu had a game-high 27 digs and Bailey Wilson 30 assists, but the Owls were outhit .108 to .099. Eastern Connecticut got 13 kills apiece from Anna Barry and Abby Stern.
The Owls started the day strong, scoring four of the first five points, but as happened frequently, could never get much more separation as ECSU answered every time, eventually going up 9-6 on a kill by Lydia Niderno. The visitors' lead later grew to 15-10, but Keene State hit back with a 7-2 burst that concluded with Sydney Johnson's kill and Lauren Notholt's attack error to tie the opening set at 17. Another ECSU error put the Owls up 19-18, but the Warriors called a timeout and then proceeded to score the next three points and never trailed again. Palmer's spike got the home team within 23-22, but ECSU scored the next two to take the upper hand in the match.
Keene State led for the vast majority of the second frame, but could not hold on. Early on, an ace from Ali McLoughlin had the Owls up 9-6, which later grew to 14-9 on three straight Eastern attack errors. KSC saw their lead shrink to one at 18-17 and again at 21-20, but appeared to be well in control after kills consecutively from Palmer, Emilyann Ashford and McLoughlin restored the lead to four and brought up set point. The Owls could not close it out. The Warriors rattled off five consecutive points, finishing with Stern's kill to go up 25-24 and had their own chance to close the set. It did not happen initially, as McLoughlin's spike tied it once again, but ECSU scored the next two to complete the comeback and take control of the match.
The third set played out similarly. After the teams split the first 12 points, the Owls slowly moved out to a 12-7 lead following kills from Kelly Hunt and a well-placed one by Mathieu. KSC remained ahead, going up 15-9 when Hunt and Elizabeth Johnson teamed up for a block. Johnson's spike a short time later kept the Owls up 18-13, but Eastern Connecticut would not go away, scoring six of the next eight to get within one (20-19). Once again - as happened in the second frame - it seemed Keene State was poised to claim a set victory, as a kill from Sarah Williams and two straight ECSU errors made it 23-19 lead. However, the Owls did not score again. ECSU tallied the next six, including kills from Barry and a team block from her and Alaetra Long to break away from a 23-23 tie and complete the sweep.
How It Happened - MCLA
The Owls ended a two-game slide with a straight set victory over MCLA, who had previously defeated Eastern Connecticut 3-2 in the middle match of the day. Hunt contributed eight kills while attacking at a .292 clip for KSC, while Palmer had seven kills and 10 digs. Mathieu had 17 digs and three aces, while Wilson stuffed the statsheet with 26 assists, 13 digs, five kills and three aces. MCLA was led by Kelly Moczulski's 11 kills and 11 digs.
It was back and forth very early on, with the teams splitting the first 18 points before the Trailblazers went up one (12-11) on a kill by Madison Jayne. However, KSC surged from there, scoring nine consecutive points to open a 20-12 gap, a lead they would not relinquish for the remainder of the match. Another run, this one 5-0, finshing with Wilson's kill sandwiching two Mathieu aces gave the Owls the opening set.
Keene State's momentum was never slowed, as they scored five more points in a row to begin the second set and later went up 10-3 when Palmer and Elizabeth Johnson blocked Reagan Scattergood. MCLA was never closer than five after that, and KSC eventually went up double-digits (18-8) on a kill by Ashford and Trailblazers error. Leading 22-16 after an 8-4 burst by MCLA, the Owls scored the next three and ended the set on Wilson's kill.
Despite never leading, the Trailblazers hung around early in the third set, as KSC never led by more than two and eventually saw the visitors tie the frame at 10 after two kills in a row. Leading 12-11, the Owls took control by scoring five of the next six for a 17-12 lead, forcing an MCLA timeout. The visitors did briefly answer out of the break with a 5-2 run to get back within two, but Keene State immediately responded by scoring six of seven to wrap up the match. Brianna Azzinaro set up Hunt and McLoughlin on the home team's final two points.
- Wilson's 56 assists on the day move her into second place on KSC's all-time list, surpassing the 2,595 Alexis Michal '15 recorded.
- Keene State travels to Plymouth State University on Wednesday, October 16 for a 6:00 pm start.
- ECSU hosts Western Connecticut State University on the same night at 7:00 pm.
- MCLA entertains Framingham State University on Tuesday, October 15 at 6:00 pm.