KEENE, N.H. - The Keene State College volleyball team got back on the right track, beating both Elmira College (25-19, 25-15, 25-9) and New England College (25-16, 25-14, 25-13) 3-0 in the Granite State Challenge on Saturday afternoon at Spaulding Gym.
- Keene State: 6-3
- Elmira: 1-3
- New England College: 2-7
How It Happened - Elmira
The Owls cruised in three sets to beat the Soaring Eagles in the first ever matchup between the two programs. KSC received kills from eight different players, led by nine from Megan Palmer. She added 13 digs, an ace and a block assist. Riley Bunker had 16 digs and four assists, while setter Bailey Wilson had 25 assists and eight digs.
Keene State got off to quick starts in all three sets and led for nearly the entirety of the match. A pair of service aces from Olivia Mathieu helped the Owls score the first four points of the opening set, and they widened that lead to 7-1 after an Elmira error. The Soaring Eagles drew within 9-7 after a kill from Natalie Schieder and still trailed just 13-11 a short time later, but the Owls then reeled off nine consecutive points, capped by four straight kills (two each from Palmer and Niamh Dodd), to create separation. Elmira did answer by scoring six straight points of their own and later got within 23-19, but the Owls closed out the set with a Palmer kill and Wilson ace.
KSC would again score seven of the first eight points in the second set, but this time the Owls continued to expand the lead, going up 18-5 after Palmer contributed a pair of kills during a five-point run. Elmira scored six straight to get within seven, but Keene State had no trouble closing the set, as a pair of kills from Jennifer Severino helped open a 22-12 gap and a Soaring Eagles' attack error concluded the set.
Elmira scored three of the initial four points, leading for the first time in the entire match, to kick off the third set, but the Owls quickly assumed control as they answered with a 14-3 burst of their own to go up 15-6, capped by a kill from Elizabeth Johnson. The Soaring Eagles stopped the bleeding for the moment, but the Owls got a pair of kills from Ali McLoughlin that helped increase the lead to 20-7. Another kill from Johnson and a pair of Elmira attacking errors gave KSC the 3-0 win.
The Owls had a .245 hitting percentage for the match, while the Soaring Eagles were held to -.035.
How It Happened - New England College
It proved to be more of the same later in the day, as KSC won in straight sets for the second straight year over New England College and the fifth time this season. Using a starting lineup that featured four freshman, the Owls received eight kills from Emilyann Ashford and seven from Johnson. McLoughlin and Bunker each had 15 digs, while Nina Dias had 22 assists, a pair of service aces and seven digs. Bunker added seven aces to her line. KSC finished with a whopping 15 of those, the most they have had in a match since producing 16 on October 25, 2014 against Framingham State.
Keene State controlled the action throughout, getting out to big leads in all three sets. In the first, the Owls utilized three kills and two aces to reel off eight straight points after it was tied at three. Now up 11-3, KSC only widened the lead from there, going up double-digits (15-5) on an NEC attack error. The Pilgrims never threatened again and an attack error by them ended the set.
Two aces and a trio of kills helped the Owls open a 5-1 lead to begin the second set. Later, another big run helped KSC pull away quickly. This time, six consecutive points capped by a Kali Sequeira kill put the Owls up 17-8. New England College sliced the lead to seven thereafter, but Keene State recorded five of the last six points to win the set.
Any hopes of a Pilgrims comeback were dashed quickly in the third when three service aces by Bunker highlighted a run where the Owls scored seven straight points to go up 8-1. Later, a kill from Ashford, two from Johnson, and an ace from Sarah Williams had KSC out in front 15-6. The lead rose to double-digits immediately thereafter, and a pair of aces from Dias and a kill by Hannah Hoffmaster helped salt away the match.
The Owls limited NEC to a season-low 12 kills and -.101 hitting percentage in the match.
- Keene State will be back in action on Tuesday, September 11 when they host Colby-Sawyer College at 7:00 pm.