Nov. 8, 2008
KEENE, NH - The top-seeded Keene State College women's volleyball team captured its first-ever Little East Conference championship in dramatic fashion with a 3-2 victory over second seed UMass-Boston at Spaulding Gym on Saturday. The scores in the five-game cliff- hanger were 30-28, 21-25, 25-22, 17-25, and 17-15.
With the win the Owls (29-8) tied the program record for consecutive match wins (12). The Beacons (25-9) came into the match winners of 16 out of its last 17 matches.
After four closely-contested games had the two teams tied at two-all, the Beacons, also looking for their first LEC title, jumped out to an early 7-1 lead in the fifth and deciding game. The resilient Owls fought back to tie the game 12-12 on a kill by freshman hitter Bridget O'Bryant (Merrimack, NH) and took their first lead on a put back slam by junior setter Jordan Pokryfki (Wasillia, AK).
The teams traded points the rest of the way with each facing the reality of a match-ending point. Freshman hitter Kristen Girard (Tivoli, NY) tied the game at 15-all when her kill deflected off a Beacon player. The Owls took a 16-15 lead after Girard tipped the ball down the line.
On the next serve, UMB's junior hitter Kate McWhorter (Bakersfield, CA) attempted to send the ball cross court for a tying point, but senior Brittany O'Bryant (Merrimack, NH), with arms out-stretched, blocked the ball to the floor giving KSC the LEC crown and sending the team to the NCAA tournament.
The first game was a shoot-out. The game came down to the final two points with a pair of ball hitting errors by the Beacons giving KSC a 30-28 win. UMB pulled way for the Owls in the closing stages of game two, winning 25-21, to knot the match at one-all. KSC answered with a 25-22 victory in game three. A kill by Girard put the Owls up 24-21 and they held on for the win. The Beacons, who opened up a 13-6 lead, won the fourth game handily, setting up a winner-take all fifth game.
Bridget O'Bryant led the Owls with a career high 29 kills. Girard had 14 kills. Senior libero Sarah Peterson (Danville, NH), who was named the tournament's MVP, had a strong performance on the back row, finishing with 38 digs. Pokryfki contributed 46 assists, and Brittany O'Bryant had a game-high five blocks.
McWhorter led the Beacons with a career-high 26 kills and five blocks. Junior Megan MacAuley (Upland, CA) had a personal-best 30 digs and freshman setter Cassy Hanneman (Denver CO) finished with a career-best 46 assists.
KSC will find out its NCAA opponent and match destination on Sunday. UMB will await a possible at-large berth.
Material from Keene State College Sports Information was used in this report.