PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Keene State College volleyball team led 7-5 in the decisive fifth set, but Plymouth State University scored seven of the final nine points to beat the Owls 3-2 (19-25, 25-19, 27-25, 19-25, 15-11) in Little East action Wednesday night at Foley Gymnasium.
- Keene State: 17-7, 3-2 LEC
- Plymouth State: 24-2, 4-1 LEC
How It Happened
Ali McLoughlin had 16 kills and Emilyann Ashford 11 for KSC, but the Owls hit .111 or less in four out of the five sets and wound up dropping their third match in the last four. Olivia Mathieu had 28 digs, while Bailey Wilson chipped in 45 assists, 10 digs and three kills. Plymouth received a game and career-high 22 kills from Francie Shaffer. Lex Bowers had 15 kills and 16 digs.
Keene State got of to a flying start, as they never trailed in the opening set, running out to an 8-4 lead after a spike by Ashford. Kills by McLoughlin and Kelly Hunt later on maintained a 17-9 edge, which eventually grew to 21-10 after the Owls scored four straight points. Plymouth tried to come back, as they tallied the next seven, but that was as close as they got, with a kill and ace by Megan Palmer putting KSC up 1-0 in the match.
Things turned after that, as the Panthers took the next two sets. In the second, an early 7-0 burst turned a one-point Owl lead into an 11-5 Plymouth lead, and the visitors never recovered. A team block from Carabeth Norklun and Bowers widened the gap to 14-7, and KSC still was behind 20-13 after Bowers' kill. A brief 6-2 surge did bring the visitors within three, as Palmer's kill made it 22-19, but three straight KSC errors ended the set. PSU started strong in the third set, also, and went on to prevail in extra points. The Owls found themselves trailing 8-3 right away before scoring the next five to tie it, but Keene State struggled to pull ahead. Consecutive team blocks by Emilee Flanagan and Jaia Woodland made it 16-12 Plymouth before Keene once again fought back, tying it at 18 after Shaffer's error. PSU immediately scored the next four and seemed to maintain control, but a kill by Hunt and Panther error locked the set again (23-23). Flanagan's kill brought up set point for the home team, but the Owls got a kill from Sarah Williams while scoring the next two, getting a chance of their own to end the frame. However, two straight Plymouth spikes and a KSC error gave the Panthers a 2-1 match lead.
The Owls forced a deciding set after controlling the fourth throughout, which included a 9-2 opening surge. The Panthers did close within two on four separate occasions, but KSC had an answer, including four straight points to go in front 21-15 after PSU got within 17-15. Kills by Ashford and Elizabeth Johnson sandwiching an ace by Olivia Mathieu brought up set point (24-17), and Keene State tied the match on another Johnson kill.
Plymouth quickly ran out to a 5-2 edge in the deciding fifth frame, but the Owls rallied, scoring five in a row, finishing with a Sydney Johnson point for a 7-5 lead. KSC still held a slim 9-8 advantage after Wilson set up Hunt, but the Panthers ended the match on a 7-2 burst to beat Keene State for the first time since 2016.
- KSC still leads the all-time series, 21-17, but has fallen into a tie for fourth in the conference standings this season.
- 11 of Plymouth's 15 points in the final set came on kills. The Owls were outhit .172 to .130 overall.
- With 28 more digs, Mathieu now sits just 14 away from a top ten spot on Keene State's all-time list.
- The Owls return home for a tri-match with UMass-Dartmouth and Suffolk University on Saturday, October 19 at 12:00 pm.
- Plymouth visits Western Connecticut State University to take on the Colonials and the College of Mount St. Vincent on the same day and time.