NORTHAMPTON, Mass. - The Keene State College volleyball team was on both ends of 3-0 matches on Saturday at Ainsworth Gymnasium, first falling to No. 17 Babson College (12-25, 14-25, 22-25) before rebounding to knock off host Smith College (25-21, 25-20, 25-12).
- Keene State: 13-4
- No. 17 Babson: 14-1
- Smith: 3-11
How It Happened - No. 17 Babson
Keene State struggled in the first two sets, hitting .000 and .061 and never recovered against the 17th-ranked Beavers in a 3-0 loss. Megan Palmer had nine kills and hit .471 to pace the Owls, while Bailey Wilson had 20 assists and Olivia Mathieu 12 digs. Ali McLoughlin chipped in six kills and three digs. Babson got a balanced attack, including nine kills from Allie Puccio and eight each from Laura Zuloaga and Jordan Lapins. Elizabeth Cameron had 32 assists and six digs.
The Beavers broke a 4-4 tie in the opening set by scoring five straight points and led throughout the frame. KSC chipped away at a 12-5 deficit by getting to within 14-10 on a kill from Emilyann Ashford and Babson error, but six consecutive points, three through Gaby Miller service aces, gave the Beavers a 20-10 edge and Keene State wound up falling 25-12.
Another early run in the second set proved costly, as KSC surrendered six consecutive points to fall behind 7-2. Trailing 11-4 coming out of a timeout, the Owls hung around, getting a pair of kills from Palmer to stay within 14-8 and 16-10, but Babson took a 2-0 lead in the match after scoring nine of the final 13 points, finishing with another Miller ace and a Zuloaga block.
The Beavers took a sizable early lead in the third set, as well, going up 9-4 after a run of four straight points that included two Zuloaga kills, but the Owls fought back, going on an 8-1 run for a 12-10 lead. A Palmer kill and McLoughin ace capped the surge. KSC still maintained a two-point edge at 14-12 after Elizabeth Johnson's ace, but the Beavers took control by scoring seven of the next eight points for a 19-15 edge. Johnson's block a short time later brought the Owls back within two (20-18), and they faced that deficit twice more after that, but never got over the hump as kills from Sabrina Lechner and Lapins brought up match point (24-20) for the Beavers and another point from Lapins gave Babson the 25-22 set win and sweep.
The Beavers hit .341 in the match and Keene State .090.
How It Happened - Smith
The Owls rebounded with a sweep of their own against the Pioneers in the second match. McLoughlin hit .435 and had 12 kills, while Palmer had nine kills and eight digs. Mathieu had 12 digs and three of KSC's nine service aces, while Wilson had 28 assists, three digs and a season-high three solo blocks. Kimani Freeman had 10 kills and eight digs for Smith, but the Pioneers lost for the fifth consecutive match.
The opening two sets were close in the early stages before Keene State used late runs to pull away in both. In the first frame, KSC erased an 11-10 deficit by scoring the next four, two on service aces from Sydney Johnson and one on a kill by Palmer, and did not trail again. The set was not without drama, however, as a run of four consecutive Smith points tied it at 19, but the Owls answered with the next three and later brought up set point (24-20) after McLoughlin's kill. A spike from Ashford put KSC up 1-0 in the match.
Freeman's point concluded a 7-3 Smith run to open the second set, and the home team still led 12-9 after consecutive kills from Iris Afantchao and Amy Hagen, but Keene State then embarked on an 11-2 run to flip the script and go up 20-14. Palmer's ace tied the set at 12, and Wilson's block made it 16-13 Owls. Her ace made it 20-14, and Keene State did not have much trouble after that, as a pair of Palmer kills wrapped up the frame.
The Owls left no doubt in completing the sweep, as they dominated the third set, racing out to a 13-3 advantage while never looking back. Four more consecutive points, including kills from McLoughlin and Kelly Hunt and a Wilson ace, made it 17-4, which later became 20-5 after two more KSC spikes. In a set where the Owls racked up 14 kills and hit .414, the visitors closed the match, not surprisingly, with three consecutive kills, two from Ashford.
Keene State outhit Smith .279 to .193.
- With 48 assists on the day, Wilson moved into third on the all-time Keene State assists list.
- KSC fell to 2-4 against Babson in the all-time series and improved to 9-2 against Smith.
- Keene State visits Castleton University for a conference match on Wednesday, October 2 at 7:00 pm.
- Babson, who has won three straight since their only loss of the season, is off until next Saturday, October 5 when they host Coast Guard Academy and Vassar College beginning at 12:00 pm.
- Smith travels to Wellesley College on Tuesday, October 1 for a 7:00 pm start.