KEENE, N.H. - 24th-ranked Wesleyan University rebounded from a first set loss to hit a match-best .353 in the second and went on to give the Keene State College volleyball team their first home loss of the season, 3-1 (22-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-17) in non-conference action Thursday night at Spaulding Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 16-5
- No. 24 Wesleyan: 13-2
How It Happened
The Owls were paced by another double-double from Megan Palmer, who racked up 15 digs and 11 kills. Ali McLoughin added 10 spikes, two digs and two block assists, while Sydney Johnson had 16 digs and four kills. Bailey Wilson recorded 30 assists and nine digs. The Cardinals received double-digit kills from four different people, including 16 from Mia Hogan and 14 from Gabby Bennett. Phia Bellizzi finished with 23 digs and Kaira Muraoka-Robertson 54 assists and 12 digs.
An entertaining first set was back and forth throughout, as Ali McLoughlin's kill put the Owls up 5-2 in the early going before Wesleyan reeled off the next five consecutive points to edge out in front. KSC immediately hit back with three in a row of their own to make it 8-7 on Wilson's ace, and later went up 13-11 on a bad set by the Cardinals. A kill from Palmer and an ace from Johnson put Keene State back up three again at 20-17, but the visitors came right back to tie it at 20, the tenth deadlock of the opening frame. Palmer and Elizabeth Johnson shined down the stretch to help the Owls to a lead in the match, with each recording a kill before teaming up on a block that made it 23-20. A kill by Palmer brought up set point and Muraoka-Robertson's bad set helped wrap up the 25-22 KSC set win.
The Cardinals answered after that, as they scored the first four points of the second frame and later went up 11-5 on a kill by Hogan. The Owls drew within four on consecutive kills from Kelly Hunt and Elizabeth Johnson, but Wesleyan pulled away by scoring the next three straight and six of seven. KSC never made much of a dent in the deficit and Bella Ahearn's kill tied the match for the visitors after a 25-14 win.
Wesleyan continued to play from ahead in the third, as they again scored the initial four points. KSC embarked on a brief run that conluded with two consecutive Cardinal attack errors to make it a 7-6 Owl lead, but the visitors went on a 7-1 scoring run shortly thereafter to turn a 9-8 deficit into a 15-10 advantage. Keene State hung around, as McLoughlin's spike made it 17-14 and an attack error by Wesleyan brought the score to 20-16, but the Owls surrendered five of the next seven to fall behind 2-1 in the match.
The fastest start yet for the visitors, a 7-1 burst to start the fourth frame, eliminated the need for a decisive fifth set, as the Owls never recovered despite staying within six until late in the set. Following the opening surge, KSC did close to 10-6 on an ace by McLoughlin that found a spot in the middle of the floor, but Wesleyan tallied the next six in a row. Trailing 18-9, the Owls scored four straight points and later made it 20-14 after Wilson set up McLoughlin. A kill and solo block by Sydney Johnson later on kept the score within that same margin, the last of which coming at 23-17, but a spike by Hogan and team block by Nicole Hilton and Muraoka-Robertson prevented any hope at an Owl comeback.
- It was the first meeting between the two teams since 2013 in North Dartmouth, Mass., a 3-0 KSC win. Wesleyan is 4-2 in the all-time series.
- Wilson is now 31 assists away from sole possession of second on the all-time list.
- Palmer has six double-doubles this season, including in each of the last two matches (30 kills, 31 digs).
- Keene State wraps up their homestand with a key conference matchup against Eastern Connecticut State University on Saturday, October 12 at 12:00 pm. The tri-match also sees the Owls take on Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts at 4:00 pm.
- Wesleyan heads up to Vermont to take on Middlebury College in a NESCAC match tomorrow, October 13 at 7:00 pm. The Cardinals also have a conference contest the following day at Amherst College.