Seniors Shine as Owls Fly Past Southern Maine, Lasell to Finish Regular Season

KEENE, N.H. - Keene State College volleyball seniors Kelly Hunt, Bailey Wilson, and Olivia Mathieu all contributed standout performances as the Owls swept the University of Southern Maine (25-16, 25-12, 25-12) and Lasell University (25-12, 25-16, 25-21) in a Saturday tri-match at Spaulding Gymnasium.

Records

  • Keene State:  23-8, 5-3 LEC
  • Southern Maine:  16-16, 4-4 LEC
  • Lasell:  9-22

How It Happened - Southern Maine

Hunt had a career-high 13 kills on .429 hitting and three digs as the Owls got off to a flying start with 18 kills against just one error in the opening set and never looked back in the conference victory.  Wilson stuffed the statsheet once again, finishing with 34 assists, eight digs and five service aces.  Sydney Johnson narrowly missed another double-double with 16 digs and nine kills, while Olivia Mathieu had a match-high 26 digs.  Jamie Jannarone led Southern Maine with eight kills.

Keene State wasted no time asserting themselves, as seven consecutive points - all on kills by four different people - opened a quick 9-2 lead.  Trailing 11-3 moments later, USM did chip away, drawing to within 12-8 on a service ace and eventually 16-14 on a KSC setting error.  However, they got no closer.  The Owls scored five of the next seven to force a Huskies timeout with the score 21-16 and did not slow down from there, tallying the next four in a row after that, finishing with Hunt's kill, to win the first set 25-16.

The second set started off with more of the same, with Bailey Wilson serving the Owls into five straight points, two on aces, for a 7-3 advantage, one they would never relinquish.  A spike from Emilyann Ashford followed by block from her and Johnson extended the lead further (13-5), and KSC went up double-digits at 18-7 after consecutive kills by Ali McLoughlin.  The home team had no trouble after that, and Hunt once again ended the set with a point, giving the Owls a 25-12 set win.

Leading 2-0 in the match, KSC finished it off by winning the third frame by the same exact score as the second.  A service ace by Elizabeth Johnson in the early-going helped the Owls gain separation, wrapping up a string of three straight for a 9-5 lead.  Southern Maine never got closer than three after that, and kills by Ashford and Sydney Johnson made it 12-6.  Ahead 16-10, KSC finished the match on a 9-2 binge to win going away.  Two more aces from Wilson and kills from both Elizabeth and Sydney Johnson widened the gap to 20-10, and Hunt finished her career day by later scoring KSC's final two points.

The Owls outhit the Huskies .333 to .093, had 19 more kills and 23 more digs in the victory.

How It Happened - Lasell

KSC had no trouble wrapping up the regular season with a win behind a balanced attack that saw eight different people record at least two kills.  Sydney Johnson paced the Owls with eight and a match-high 16 digs, while Courtney Chouinard had a career-best six spikes.  Wilson finished with 17 assists and eight digs, and Mathieu 15 digs.  Lasell got 14 kills against just one error from Meg Roberts, but was still outhit .204 to .047.

Four Laser errors and an Elizabeth Johnson kill had the Owls quickly in front 5-2, and the Owls played from ahead for the vast majority of the match, later breaking away from a 7-7 tie with five consecutive points.  Swings from Sydney Johnson and Hunt later had KSC up 19-10 and that was about it for the opening set, with the hosts crusing to a 25-12 win.

The Owls closed the first set on a 10-2 run, and opened the second frame on the very same burst, highlighted by three kills by Chouinard.  Lasell did find a response, clawing all the way back within three (16-13) after an 11-6 run, but never got any closer, as KSC scored the next three and eventually brought up set point (24-16) after consecutive team blocks, one by Paige Hine and Hunt and the other by Hine and McLoughlin.  A Laser attack error gave the Owls another comfortable set victory.

Looking to extend the match, Lasell got off to a quick beginning in the third frame, taking their largest lead all day (9-4) after two straight kills by Roberts.  A 6-1 run for KSC quickly erased their deficit, tying it at ten, and five more points in a row shortly thereafter had the Owls up 15-11.  Another 5-0 run, finishing with Johnson's kill, extended the gap to six (21-15) as KSC continued to roll.  The Lasers had one final push, answering with five of the next six, but two straight kills by Hannah Hoffmaster wrapped up the day.

Service Aces

  • Keene State's win over USM locked the Owls into the No. 5 seed for the Little East Conference tournament that begins Tuesday.  Western Connecticut State University earned the No. 1 seed following Eastern Connecticut's 3-0 sweep of Plymouth State.  With that win, the Warriors finished second and the Panthers fell to third.  UMass-Boston had already clinched the No. 4 seed.  USM rounds out the six-team field.
  • The Owls wrapped up their home schedule with a 13-2 record and are now 33-5 at Spaulding Gymnasium over the past three seasons.

Up Next

  • KSC will look to avenge last Saturday's loss to UMass-Boston when they travel to face the Beacons in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament on Tuesday, November 5.  A start time has yet to be annoucned.
  • 6th-seeded Southern Maine will travel to 3rd-seeded Plymouth State on the same night at 6:00 pm.
  • Lasell, the No. 8 seed in the GNAC tournament, goes to No. 23 nationally ranked Johnson & Wales University (R.I.) for a quarterfinal at 7:30 pm, also on Tuesday.