GORHAM, Maine - The Keene State College volleyball team suffered their first conference loss, falling 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 21-25, 22-25) to the University of Southern Maine on Saturday afternoon at Hill Gymnasium. The Owls rebounded to knock off the Sage Colleges by the same score (25-15, 25-8, 20-25, 25-16) in the day's second match.
- Keene State: 14-5, 2-1 LEC
- Southern Maine: 12-5, 3-1 LEC
- Sage: 4-12
How It Happened - Southern Maine
In four close sets, the teams split the first two before the Huskies took the next two. Niamh Dodd led the Owls with 14 kills, while Megan Palmer added 10. Riley Bunker had 26 digs and two aces, while Bailey Wilson had 39 assists and six digs. Southern Maine got 16 kills from Kacey Foerster and double-digit digs from four different players.
KSC got off to a strong start in the opening frame, as a pair of kills from Dodd and one from Olivia Mathieu helped them out to a 6-1 lead. Kills from Kelly Hunt and two more from Mathieu still had the Owls up 15-10 and, later, three more kills had Keene State up 18-12, their largest lead of the set. The tables turned quickly, though, as Southern Maine scored nine consecutive points to seize the momentum and force a KSC timeout. Trailing 21-18, the Owls scored two straight points on a kill and ace from Palmer, but they could never get over the hump, and USM took the set 25-22.
Keene State gained the upper hand in the second set as well, but this time closed it out. Two kills from Ali McLoughlin and one each from Wilson and Palmer had the Owls out in front 7-4. The Huskies answered, going on a 6-2 run to take what proved to be their only lead of the set (10-9). Just like USM in the first set, KSC used a big run to take control. The Owls scored ten consecutive points, capped by three straight kills, to take a 19-11 lead. Southern Maine never got closer than four after that, and a kill from Dodd ended the set and tied the match.
Looking to take the upper hand, Keene State got off to a strong start for the third consecutive set. A pair of kills apiece from McLoughlin and Elizabeth Johnson aided the Owls in scoring seven of the first ten points. The Huskies chipped away, though, as a pair of KSC attack errors tied the set at 10-10. USM added four more from there to assume a lead they would not relinquish. Trailing 14-10, Keene State drew within one two different times, the last of which came at 18-17, but Southern Maine answered each time. The Huskies scored three straight to go ahead by four (21-17) and reached set point on a kill by Foerster. A KSC service error put USM up 2-1 in the match.
The fourth set saw Southern Maine go up early for the first time, as they went ahead 7-3. The Owls chipped away quickly, though, as they went on a 10-2 surge to take a 13-9 lead. Kills from Mathieu and Hunt to go along with an ace from Johnson tied it, and kills from Dodd and Hunt put KSC ahead. However, the Huskies later scored six of seven points to go back ahead (18-16) in what proved to be the final lead change. Keene State tied the set thanks to a pair of kills from Dodd sandwiched around one from McLoughlin, but USM ended the match with three consecutive kills of their own.
How It Happened - Sage
Keene State hit a season-high .319 and had little trouble dispatching Sage in the day's second match. Palmer had 11 more kills and eight digs to lead KSC, while Bunker recorded 21 digs and Wilson 35 assists, five kills and three aces.
The Owls outhit the Gators and had double-digit kills as a team in each set, finshing with a season-high 58. KSC had 18 kills in both the second and fourth sets, while limiting Sage to just four and nine, respectively.
- Bunker needs 100 more digs to tie Sarah Peterson '08 on the all-time list.
- Keene State leads the all-time series against Southern Maine 17-6. They had not lost to the Huskies since November of 2003. The meeting with Sage was the first since 2004.
- Keene State will travel to Castleton University for their first ever conference meeting against the Spartans on Tuesday, October 2. The match starts at 7:00 pm.
- Southern Maine goes to Plymouth State University on the same day at 6:00 pm.
- Sage stays in Maine and will travel to St. Joseph's College tomorrow, September 30, for a 2:00 pm start.