PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Keene State College volleyball team twice bounced back from set losses, but eventually fell to Rhode Island College 3-2 (27-29, 26-24, 22-25, 25-16, 9-15) in the LEC finale for both teams Saturday afternoon at The Murray Center.
- Keene State: 20-9, 5-3 LEC
- Rhode Island College: 14-11, 5-3 LEC
How It Happened
The Owls were led by Megan Palmer's 13 kills and 21 digs. Riley Bunker had 37 digs, six assists and an ace, while Bailey Wilson had a busy line of 34 assists, 21 digs, two kills, two aces, and two block assists. Kelly Hunt added ten kills and Kait West 18 digs. RIC got double-digit kills from four different people, led by 13 from Jenaeya Evans. The Anchorwomen also got 57 assists from Jacqueline Jutras and 57 digs from Marisa Brynes.
The match was close throughout, and the first two sets saw big late comebacks from each team. In the opening frame, KSC opened up a 10-6 lead on the strength of two kills from Elizabeth Johnson and one from Hunt. The lead continued to grow for the Owls, as consecutive kills from Palmer and an ace from Wilson made it 20-12. A pair of RIC errors made it 23-16, and a Hunt kill brought up set point, but the Anchorwomen came roaring back, as they scored six consecutive points to draw within one and eventually took a 25-24 lead on consecutive KSC miscues. The Owls tied it three times after that, but never led, and a kill from Evans along with a Keene State attack error ended the set.
The roles were reversed in the second, as Rhode Island College edged out to an 11-7 lead early on and later extended the advantage to 18-12. Trailing 19-14, the Owls were on the comeback trail, as two Palmer kills, a Wilson ace, and a block by Olivia Mathieu and Johnson made it a two-point set (20-18). RIC appeared to retake command when two points in a row made it 23-19, but they only scored once more. Keene State tied the set at 23 after West's ace and went ahead on Palmer's kill. The Anchorwomen tied it on a kill of their own, but a RIC error and Niamh Dodd's block clinched the set for KSC.
Keene State had the upper hand in the initial stages of the third set when they had leads of 7-2 and 8-4. However, the Anchorwomen scored four straight and eventually took their first lead, one they never relinquished, at 11-10. RIC pulled away over the remainder of the frame, as Jutras' ace made it 16-11 and, later, an Owl attack error made it 22-14. Another kill from Emilia Vaziri brought up set point at 24-18, which KSC warded off four straight times before a block by Jessica Brielmaier put Rhode Island College up 2-1 in the match.
The Owls were dominant in the fourth set, as they outhit the Anchorwomen .294 to -.026 and never trailed. Kills from Palmer, Wilson and Dodd made it 6-1 right away. RIC did come back to even the set at seven, but it was all KSC after that, as seven consecutive points made it a 14-7 Owls advantage. Mathieu's ace and Palmer's kill sandwiched around a RIC error still had the Owls doubling up the Anchorwomen at 18-9. RIC drew within six (22-16) before an Anchorwomen error and two kills by McLoughlin forced a decisive fifth frame.
Wilson set up Johnson for a kill in the initial stages of that set as the Owls led 5-3. However, RIC then asserted themselves, as consecutive aces from Samantha Borges put the Anchorwomen ahead (6-5) for good. Keene State trimmed the deficit to one at 9-8, but Rhode Island College tallied six of the final seven points, capped by Brielmaier's kill, to take the match in five sets.
- Bunker currently has 1969 digs, needing just 31 to reach the 2000 mark. She already holds the record for all-time digs at KSC.
- Keene State lost to RIC for just the eighth time in 28 all-time meetings.
- Wilson continues to move up the all-time assists list, as she current sits in fifth with 1789.
- The teams combined for 247 digs in the match.
- Keene State will be the No. 3 seed in the Little East Tournament unless Castleton University (2-19) defeats Western Connecticut State University (16-9) on Sunday. The Owls' quarterfinal matchup will take place on Tuesday, October 30 against either WCSU or Plymouth State University. KSC defeated both teams in the regular season.
- Rhode Island College will finish either third or fifth and take on whichever above team Keene State does not on the same night.