NASHUA, N.H. - The Keene State College volleyball team lost a pair of matches to open the Granite State Challenge on Friday evening at Muldoon Gymnasium, falling to Rochester Institute of Technology 3-1 (25-22, 17-25, 14-25, 12-25) and Rivier University 3-2 (15-25, 25-17, 15-25, 25-19, 11-15).
- Keene State: 4-3
- RIT: 4-2
- Rivier: 2-4
How It Happened - RIT
The Owls took the first set 25-22, but dropped the next three as the Tigers came away victorious and went 2-0 on the day. Olivia Mathieu had eight kills, 13 digs, and two block assists for Keene State, while Megan Palmer had eight kills and nine digs. Riley Bunker had 16 digs and Bailey Wilson 30 assists. Taylor Higgins had 13 kills and 12 digs for RIT.
It was a close first set as the teams split the first 14 points, but the Tigers then appeared to pull away when they went on a 13-4 run to assume a 20-11 lead. However, the Owls came roaring back. Niamh Dodd and Kelly Hunt combined for a block on Higgins to make it 21-16 and, after RIT scored, the Owls then rattled off nine consecutive points to steal the set. Mathieu had four kills during that span and the set ended on a Tigers' attack error.
RIT surged to open the second set, getting a pair of kills each from Higgins and Sara Taylor to assume a 10-3 lead. They were never seriously threatened after that, as the closest KSC got was 23-17 after kills from Mathieu and Hunt. A kill from Higgins and an ace from Kathryn Vogl evened the match for the Tigers.
RIT used a late burst in the third set, scoring 12 of the final 15 points to go up 2-1 in the match. KSC had scored four of the first five points, capped by a Mathieu ace, to gain the upper hand, but the Tigers chipped away and eventually went up 11-7 with six straight points. Keene State got within two after Hunt had a kill, but RIT then scored five straight to pull away for good.
The Tigers never trailed in what proved to be the final set. They scored eight of the first 11 and KSC never got on track after that. RIT widened their lead to 15-6 after three consecutive points and took a double-digit lead at 18-8 a few moments later. Two kills from Taylor and an ace from Vogl made it 22-10 Tigers. Another kill by Higgins gave RIT the match. The Tigers finished with ten service aces on the match and outhit KSC .268 to .065.
How It Happened - Rivier
In a back-and-forth battle, the Raiders prevailed after winning the fifth set 15-11. The Owls fell behind 1-0 and 2-1 by losing the first and third sets 25-15, but each time they responded before falling short. KSC was once again paced by Palmer who had 13 kills, five digs, two blocks, one block assist and two aces. Bunker had 17 digs, while Wilson had 29 assists and six digs.
Rivier had four different players with double-digit kills, led by Taylor Dunster's 15 kills. She also had 18 digs. Sydney Racevicius had 21 digs and 14 kills, while Haley Macken had 50 assists.
The Raiders started fast and never looked back in the opening set as they took leads of 12-5 and 14-7 on their way to a 25-15 win. The Owls drew within 15-10 on a kill by Jennifer Severino, but Rivier scored nine of the next 12 points before winning the set on an Owls' attack error. The Raiders hit .444 in the first. KSC answered in the second set, going up 7-4 on consecutive kills from Palmer and an ace. A block by Rivier tied the set at nine, but the Owls rattled off the next five points and eventually went up 22-14 on a kill by Ali McLoughlin. With KSC leading 23-17, another kill from McLoughlin and an error by Dunster gave the Owls the set.
A fast start again proved to be the difference for Rivier en route to a third set win and a 2-1 lead in the match. The Raiders went up 9-2 after a kill from Racevicius and 13-3 after three consecutive kills. The Owls got within 16-10 after a kill from Palmer, but Rivier kept them at bay, as a they took a double-digit lead (22-12) on three straight kills from Courtney Collins and won the set on two kills and an ace from Racevicius.
The seesaw continued, and it was KSC's turn to get off to a strong start in the fourth set. An ace from Bunker put the Owls up 4-0 and, later, one from Palmer made it 9-4. Rivier then scored three straight to get within two, but that was as close as they came in the set. Two kills from Dodd helped restore the lead to 15-9 and the Owls held on from there, as a Rivier service error set up set point and another gave KSC the 25-19 win. It was the third consecutive set that saw the winning team never trail.
The Raiders took the match by pulling away late after a hard-fought deciding set. The teams split the first ten points before Rivier took an 8-5 lead on a Macken ace. The Owls drew within one on two different occasions, the last at 11-10, but kills from Collins and Dunster gave Rivier breathing room and they won the match on a KSC service error. The Raiders finished with 62 kills and limited the Owls to 37.
- The Granite State Challenge continues tomorrow in Keene. The Owls will play their first home matches of the year, taking on Elmira College at 12:00 pm and New England College at 4:00 pm.