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Pair combines for 39 kills as Warriors down Roger Williams in opener


BRISTOL, RI - Sophomore Samantha Slonski (Griswold) had 17 kills and 23 digs and handled 48 receptions with only two errors to power the Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team to a four-game win over Roger Williams University Tuesday night in its 2009 season-opener at the Campus Recreation Center.

Above: Samantha Slonski (far right) and Taylor Abelli sparked the Warriors defensively.

After the teams traded opening wins, Eastern recorded consecutive two point victories to gain the season-opening victory. The Warriors won by scores of 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 28-26.

Slonski, last year's starting setter, teammed with sophomore Kristianna Ibsen (Shelton) offensively and with sophomore Taylor Abelli (Cheshire) defensively to help career the Warriors to the season-opening victory.

Eastern won its season-opener against Roger Williams after bowing in four games to the Hawks in the first game coached a year ago by current second-year head coach Peter Viteritti. The Warriors have now beaten Roger Williams the last eight times the teams have met in Bristol, RI and improved to 18-3 all-time in the series with the Hawks.

Slonski and Ibsen combined for 39 of the team's 52 kills. Ibsen led the way with 22 kills and a .300 attack percentage. Defensively, Slonski and Abelli combined for nearly half of the team's 83 digs and teammed to handle 77 receptions with just three errors. Abelli had 18 digs and was successful on 28 of 29 receptions.

Stepping in for Slonski as this year's starting setter, first-year sophomore setter Britt Carrier (Southington), amassed 44 of the team's 47 assists and added 16 digs -- one of three players with at least that many. It marked the sixth career game of at least 40 assists for Carrier, who led Johnson & Wales to the No. 2 seed in last year's ECAC tournament.

Ibsen had six kills (four in a row) and Carrier six digs to key the go-ahead Game 3 victory, and the Warriors survived game point three times in Game 4 to avoid facing a decisive fifth game. Slonski had a kill to tie Game 4 at 26-all, then contributed her only service ace of the match to give the Warriors a one-point lead. The hosts later commited errors on the final two possessions of the game to give Eastern the win.

Having lost half of last year's six starters, Eastern started four sophomores and a freshman against Roger Williams, which featured seven seniors and juniors and 11 players standing 5-foot-9 inches or taller.

Eastern visits Babson College Saturday at 1 p.m.