SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Bailey Wilson surpassed the 2,000 assist mark as the Keene State College volleyball team wound up taking two out of three at the Springfield Invitational this weekend to open their season after splitting a pair of matches Saturday at Blake Arena. The Owls dropped a tough 3-2 (25-13, 20-25, 22-25, 25-17, 11-15) decision to Montclair State University, but rebounded to beat Brandeis University 3-1 (20-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-18).
- Keene State: 2-1
- Montclair State: 1-1
- Brandeis: 1-1
How It Happened - Montclair State
Despite KSC having an edge in most every statistical category, the Red Hawks rode a fast start in the deciding fifth set to snatch a win away from the Owls. KSC was led by 17 kills and five digs from Ali McLoughlin, while Megan Palmer, Elizabeth Johnson, and Emilyann Ashford all had 10 kills. Olivia Mathieu had 30 digs and Wilson 47 assists and 14 digs.
The Owls carried over their momentum from dominating the final two sets Friday against Skidmore with more of the same early against MSU, as KSC rolled out to a 9-1 lead in the opening set. The Red Hawks never got closer than five in the frame, and the Owls went up double-digits for the first time (19-9) after a kill from Wilson and block by Johnson. Johnson and McLoughlin had a pair of kills each down the stretch to help KSC ease to a 25-13 set win. The second frame was a much different story, as neither team led by more than two until Montclair broke a 20-20 tie by scoring the final five points, including two aces from Katelyn Monaghan, and the third also played out in a similar fashion. An 8-2 run by the Owls helped flip an 11-6 deficit into a 14-13 lead, but KSC could never grow the lead any further. The Hawks doubled up the Owls 8-4 down the stetch and took the set 25-22 to go up 2-1. Three kills in the early-going of the fourth set from McLoughlin helped set the tone, as KSC led 10-6 and never trailed while forcing a deciding fifth set. The Owls widened the lead to 19-11 after a pair of kills from Palmer and, later, Ashford did the same to make it 21-12. A bad set clinched the frame for KSC, but a slow start in the fifth was costly. Montclair State, despite only having six kills in the first-to-15 situation, scored seven of the first nine points, and the Owls never recovered despite getting within one twice down the stretch, the last coming at 12-11.
How It Happened - Brandeis
Keene State fell in the opening set 25-20, but then rattled off three straight to roll over the University Athletic Association's Judges to conclude the weekend. Johnson had 12 more kills against just one error, hitting .550 in the match, while McLoughlin also had double-digit kills with 10. Mathieu had 23 digs, while Wilson surpassed 2,000 assists after recording 40 in this match to go along with 10 digs.
Six consecutive points in the opening set helped KSC open a 9-6 lead, but Brandeis scored eight of the next 10 to go up three and weathered the Owls from there, as after Keene State drew within 18-17, the Judges took the frame with a 6-2 run. After having just seven kills and eight errors in the first set, the Owls turned it around quickly, amassing 41 kills against just 11 errors while winning the next three sets in a row. The second started with KSC spiking down six kills while opening a 7-2 lead. Brandeis chipped away, eventually going up 12-11, but that was the last lead they had, as the Owls scored the next three and later went up 20-16 following an ace and kill from Wilson. KSC was not threatened after that, evening the match at one with a 25-19 set win. The third frame was close throughout. Back-to-back kills by Brandeis gave them a 12-9 edge, but KSC scored the next six to take the lead and eventually went up 20-14 after an 11-2 surge that culminated with two kills each from Johnson and McLoughlin. The Judges did not go away, getting within two on two different occasions, but Kelly Hunt's point put the Owls in front in the match. With a chance to close it out and not wanting a third consecutive five set marathon, KSC found themselves trailing 9-7 early in the fourth set. However, the deficit was short-lived, as four kills from McLoughlin sparked a big 14-3 run that put the Owls up nine (21-12). Leading 22-17, Keene State put the match away after a spike from Palmer and Amelia Oppenheimer's attack error.
The Owls hit .389 and .303, respectively, in the final two sets.
- Wilson's 87 assist day leaves her with 2,028 for her career. She is currently fifth on KSC's all-time list, but is in reach of second-place Alexis Michal '15, who finished her career with 2,595.
- After compiling 31 kills on a .500 attack percentage, six digs and five aces on the weekend, Elizabeth Johnson was named to the all-tournament team.
- Keene State had 48 or more kills in a match seven times all of last season and hit .186 overall. They have already done that three times in three matches this season, including 59 against Montclair, while hitting .216.
- Keene State visits Clark University for a midweek matchup on Wednesday, September 4 that starts at 7:00 p.m.
- Montclair State hosts a tri-match with Merchant Marine Academy and Stevens Tech next weekend.
- Brandeis takes on DeSales University on Friday, September 6 at 5:00 pm in New London, Conn.