DANBURY, Conn. - The Keene State College volleyball team kept pace in the close Little East race by beating Western Connecticut State University 3-1 (25-13, 20-25, 25-20, 25-22) on Saturday afternoon at Feldman Arena. The Owls fell to SUNY Potsdam 3-1 (21-25, 27-25, 15-25, 22-25) in the day's second match.
- Keene State: 19-6, 5-1 LEC
- Western Connecticut: 12-9, 2-3 LEC
- SUNY Potsdam: 9-14
How It Happened - Western Connecticut
Megan Palmer paced the Owls with 11 kills and six digs. Riley Bunker had 26 digs, five assists, and four service aces, while Bailey Wilson had 38 assists, seven digs and four kills. WCSU got 14 kills from Nicolina Chenard and 42 assists from Jenna Skerritt.
KSC outhit West Conn .407 to .033 and won the opening set comfortably. After the teams split the first 16 points, the Owls nudged ahead 11-8 on two WCSU attack errors sandwiched around an ace by Kait West. The Colonials got within 12-11, but scored just two more points after that. An ace from Bunker and a kill from Elizabeth Johnson helped KSC lead 18-12 and, later, an ace from Wilson made it an eight point lead. Five consecutive Owl points ended the set, as Palmer, Olivia Mathieu, and Johnson all had kills.
The momentum carried over into the second frame as Palmer recorded three kills in a 7-3 opening run for KSC. The Colonials had an answer, though, as kills by Mikayla Aubry and Skerritt made it 10-9. Keene State restored the advantage to 15-12 and eventually still led 18-17, but Western Connecticut took command after that. Kills by Kamari King and Skerritt gave the Colonials a 20-18 lead, and they later scored three consecutive points to win the set 25-20.
The third set was close in the early going, as neither team could gain any separation until kills from Johnson and Ali McLoughlin helped the Owls take a 13-10 lead. KSC continued adding to the lead after that, as kills from Mathieu and Niamh Dodd made it 18-13. WCSU scored twice to draw within three, but that was as close as they got. A point from McLoughlin gave the Owls a 23-16 lead, and later, it was another kill from her that gave Keene State a 2-1 lead in the match.
The fourth frame featured wild swings, as ten consecutive Owl points to kick things off were answered by a 9-1 Western burst. Now leading 11-9, KSC used kills from Palmer and Johnson, and another ace from Bunker to restore a five-point advantage. Still trailing 19-15, the Colonials had a big answer, as they scored seven of eight points to go ahead 22-20. Keene State fittingly finished the match with a big surge of their own, as they scored the final five points. Kills from Palmer and Johnson put the Owls back ahead 23-22, and two straight aces from Bunker ended the match.
How It Happened - SUNY Potsdam
Keene State had their six-match winning streak snapped in the non-conference loss. Palmer had ten more kills and nine additional digs, while Bunker had 20 more digs. Wilson had 50 assists and six digs as the Owls fell despite having a 52-47 edge in kills.
The Bears rolled out to a 10-5 advantage in the opening set and were still doubling up KSC 14-7 after an ace by Brianna Rodda. Keene State got within 17-15 on Palmer's kill and, later, 21-20 after kills from Kelly Hunt and Palmer, but Potsdam held on, scoring four of the last five points.
Keene State established control in the second frame by opening up a 7-3 lead on a kill by Kali Sequeira and an ace from Wilson. KSC extended their advantage to 12-6 on a kill from Dodd, but the Bears quickly drew within one (15-14) on Monica Mack's point. KSC then scored three straight and appeared to be retaking command, but Potsdam went on an 8-1 run that featured three aces from Mack, giving them a 23-19 lead. Just when it appeared the Bears would close the set, the Owls responded with a 6-1 binge of their own to go in front 25-24. After Potsdam evened the set on KSC's service error, two kills from McLoughlin gave the Owls the set.
The Bears were never seriously threatened in the third set, as they scored seven consecutive points to open an early 8-4 lead. Keene State got within 9-7, but Potsdam pulled away after that, as a kill from Gabby Scott and an ace from Rodda made it 17-9. The Owls scored to get within seven, but that was as close as they got before the Bears closed the 25-15 set win.
Looking to force a decisive set, Keene State got a kill from Mathieu for a slim 10-9 lead in the initial stages of the fourth. Potsdam had other ideas, though, as they scored five of six points to go ahead 14-11 and never trailed again. The Owls got within one two different times, as Hunt and Johnson combined for a block that made it 15-14, and later, Mathieu's kill made it 19-18, but they could not get over the hump, as a KSC attack error brought up match point at 24-19. The Owls did score three straight, but a block by Xanara Ruiz ended the match.
- Keene State is now tied with Eastern Connecticut State University for the top spot in the league at 5-1. UMass Boston (4-1) and Rhode Island College (3-1) sit right behind and are also KSC's final two conference opponents.
- Bunker recorded 46 digs and now has 1868 in her career. She needs just 16 more to become Keene State's new all-time digs leader.
- Wilson's 50 assists in the match against Potsdam are just 11 shy of the single-match record (61).
- The Owls now lead the all-time series against WCSU 17-14. KSC fell to Potsdam for the first time in three all-time meetings.
- Keene State hosts Rivier University on Thursday, October 18 at 7:00 pm.
- Western Connecticut travels to Farmingdale State College on Tuesday, October 16 for a 7:00 pm start.
- Potsdam has SUNYAC Pool Play at SUNY Brockport next weekend. They first take on the host Golden Eagles on Friday, October 19 at 5:00 pm.