SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--The Keene State College volleyball team wrapped up one of the most successful regular seasons in program history by splitting a tri-match at Western New England University on Saturday. The Owls defeated Curry College 3-0 (25-11, 25-15, 25-12) before falling to the host Golden Bears 3-0 (15-25, 19-25, 14-25).
- Keene State: 23-5
- Western New England: 16-13
- Curry: 11-17
How it Happened - Curry
The Owls hit a whopping .408 and held the Colonels to a .042 hit percentage to cruise to a win. Rachel Lamica hit an eye-popping .765 with 14 kills, six digs, and two service aces, while Olivia Mathieu had seven kills, Megan Palmer had six, and Niamh Dodd had five. Riley Bunker led the Owls' defense with 14 digs, and two service aces, while Bailey Wilson had 33 assists, four digs, two block assists, and five service aces.
The Owls pulled away from Curry in the first set, going up 8-5 on a kill by Niamh Dodd, then taking an 11-6 lead on Kelly Hunt's service ace. Lamica and Jennifer Severino teamed up on a block for a 17-8 lead, and Wilson tagged the Colonels for an ace that made it 20-10. Palmer had the Owls' fifth ace of the first set to close it out.
The second set saw Keene State again take an 8-5 lead, courtesy of another ace from Hunt, and kills from Dodd and Lamica made it 14-6. Jenny Nohara set Lamica up for a kill that made it 22-9, before the set ended on a Curry setting error.
Lamica served the Owls into seven straight points for a 10-4 lead in the third set, before an ace from Hunt made it 13-8. Back-to-back kills from Palmer gave the Owls an 18-12 lead, and Wilson served the Owls right into the win, with the final six points of the match.
How it Happened - Western New England
Western New England set the tone for the match early in the first set, as the Golden Bears won the first six points on their way to a 12-3 advantage. Keene State pulled to within six (21-15) late on a kill by Hunt, but Western New England closed out the set with a 4-0 run that featured two kills from Chiodini.
An 8-0 run early in the second set allowed Keene State to establish a 12-7 lead, but the Golden Bears responded with a 6-0 run to claim a 13-12 edge. After the Owls tied the score, Western New England won the next three points and pulled away late to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Golden Bears got off to another strong start in the third set, as they opened the frame on a 4-0 run and never looked back. Western New England, which led 17-9 after a kill by Holmes, went on to post a 25-14 triumph and complete the sweep.
- Keene State has secured the No. 2 seed in next week's Little East Conference tournament. The Owls have a bye into the semifinals and will play the winner of a quarterfinal matchup between No. 3 seed Eastern Connecticut State and No. 6 seed Southern Maine. Keene State posted 3-0 wins over both teams earlier in the season.
- The teams' 23-5 season is good for a winning percentage of .821, the best winning percentage in a single season in school history. The five losses are also the fewest in a season in the college's NCAA era, which began in 1986. The previous mark was seven, set by the 2002 team that went 15-7, followed by nine losses each for the 2008 and 2015 teams.
- The Owls improved to 8-0 on neutral courts.
- As mentioned, the Owls will host either the University of Southern Maine or Eastern Connecticut State on November 2 at 7 p.m.
The Golden Bears will head to Wentworth for a Commonwealth Coast Conference quarterfinal matchup on October 31 at 7 p.m., while Curry will play at Roger Williams in a quarterfinal matchup that same evening.
(Parts of this release courtesy Western New England)