WILLIMANTIC, Conn.--The Keene State College volleyball team maintained its perfect start to the season with matching three set sweeps of Little East Conference for Eastern Connecticut State (25-10, 25-18, 25-17) and non-conference opponent Salve Regina (25-17, 25-16, 28-26) in a tri-match at ECSU's Geissler Gym on Saturday.
- Keene State: 11-0, 1-0 LEC
- Eastern Conn. State: 6-3, 0-1 LEC
- Salve Regina: 5-5
How it Happened - Eastern Conn. State
The Owls held the Warriors to .024 hitting for the match and forced 28 errors at the net to post the sweep. Rachel Lamica had 12 kills and 10 digs, while Niamh Dodd hit .625 with five kills and Bailey Wilson hit .500 with six kills, 23 assists, 11 digs, and two service aces. Olivia Mathieu and Katie Cunningham added five more kills each. Mathieu also had 11 digs while Riley Bunker had 13.
Keene State hit .323 in the first set, rolling out to a 10-3 lead behind a pair of kills from Lamica and four ECSU errors. The lead stretched to 17-7 on a kill by Dodd, and the Owls shut the door on the opening set as Mathieu and Jennifer Severino teamed up for a block on Carly Baskus.
A kill from Mathieu gave the Owls a 7-3 lead in the second set, and Kait West served up an ace for a 13-6 lead. Two more Eastern mistakes gave KSC a 19-10 lead, but the Warriors scored seven of the next nine points to close within 21-17. Wilson set up Severino for a kill that stopped the run, and Cunningham and Lamica both had kills around an ECSU error to close out the set.
The Owls took a little longer to pull away in the third set, as the Warriors rallied from 8-6 down to go up 9-8 on a kill by Abby Stern. KSC embarked on a 7-2 run, including another ace by West, for a 15-11 lead, but the Warriors against closed to within a point, getting to 18-17 on McKenzie Maneggia's kill. From there, it was all KSC, as the Owls scored the final seven points, punctuated by Wilson's ace to end the match.
How it Happened - Salve Regina
The Owls blistered the Seahawks' nets to the tune of .556 hitting in the first set, getting 10 more kills from Lamica, and eight each from Dodd, Mathieu, and Severino. Wilson had 22 more assists, while Jenny Nohara had 10. Bunker had 10 digs. Keene State again grabbed an early lead in the first set, going up 8-4 on a kill by Katie Cunningham, and back-to-back kills from Cunningham and Severino gave KSC a 15-8 advantage.
Salve Regina got back into the match, closing to within 16-13, but Wilson and Dodd teamed up for a block on Andee Bender for a 21-15 lead, and closed out the set with kills from Dodd and Lamica and a Salve error.
Another strong start, this one in the second set, gave KSC an 11-4 lead, as Kelly Hunt set up Lamica for a kill. Three straight kills from Dodd as part of a 5-0 run boosted the Owls' lead to 21-11, and Hunt's kill got the Owls within set point before Severino and Megan Palmer combined on a block to give the Owls a 25-16 set win.
The deciding set was decidedly closer; A KSC error tied the set at six before KSC scored four straight points for a 10-6 lead. A kill from Severino gave the Owls an 18-13 lead, but Morgan VanderBaan served up consecutive aces to get Salve to 23-22. A Salve error gave KSC match point, but the Owls could not close it out, with the Seahawks forcing extra points on a block from Higgins and Cassidy Trabilcy.
A kill from Lamica gave the Owls match point again, but two straight points to the Seahawks gave them a chance to win before Nohara set up Severino for a kill. After Mathieu and Dodd had a block to give KSC a 27-26 lead, Mathieu kept the Owls undefeated with a kill to end the match.
- The Owls have won their last five matches by 3-0 sweeps, and improved to 6-0 on neutral courts.
- Over the last three matches, Dodd is hitting .639 and has not made an error, while hitting 24 kills in 39 attempts.
- The win over Eastern was a measure of revenge for KSC, which was knocked out of the LEC tournament at the quarterfinal stage last season by the Warriors.
- Keene State returns home to host Worcester State University at 7 p.m. in Spaulding Gym on September 19.
- The Warriors are off until Saturday, when they trek up to Plymouth State for a tri-match that also features Maine-Presque Isle. The Seahawks will venture up to Boston for a single match with Gordon College on September 20 at 7 p.m.