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Eastern Women's Volleyball Beaten in Debut Under Coach Fran Vandermeer

             Warriors win opening set but Hawks respond with three straight


WARRIORlogo2009_72dpi.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team fell behind early in every match in dropping a four-game decision to Roger Williams University in its season opener and debut under first-year head coach Fran Vandermeer Wednesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.

At right: Ashley Markley

After rallying from an early deficit in the first set, Eastern was not as fortunate thereafter in dropping a 25-22, 17-25, 17-25, 15-25 decision to the Hawks, who were also playing their season opener.

The Warriors broke a tie with three straight points in the first set to take the lead for good, chalking up the win behind a pair of kills from junior outside hitter Samantha Slonski (Griswold) and a set-ending RWU service errors. The Warriors used a run of five straight points to climb out of an early hole in the second set, but immediately gave those five points back as the visitors tied the match with a 10-4 set-endng run. In the third set, the Hawks broke from a 16-all tie to pull away with a 9-1 run. Roger Williams wrapped up its fourth win all-time over Eastern in 22 decisions in the fourth set. That match was tied three times in the early going before the Hawks opened up a ten-point lead.

"I'm satisfied with our effort," said Vandermeer. "It was our first night out and we have players coming off a season where they're not used to building confidence, and we're playing a team that was in the middle of the pack (in its conference) last year and comes back to win their conference championship."

Senior all-conference middle hitter Rebekah Dion had 12 kills and a .400 attack percentage for Roger Williams, with sophomore outside hitter Kelsey Twarog and freshman middle Krystie Luczynski adding ten kills each. Sophomore setter Emily Lebowitz, last year's Commonwealth Coast Conference Rookie-of-the-Year, handed out 39 set assists and senior libero Jill Hurd dug up 20 balls.
Eastern collected seven blocks and averaged 15 digs per set, but attacked at just .007 (27-for-148 with 26 errors).

"I thought we got trapped a little bit too often," admitted Vandermeer. "Our game was playing right into the teeth of their defense."

Middle hitters Kristianna Ibsen (Shelton), a junior, and sophomore Katie Wilson (Pittsburg, CA) combined for 14 kills, with Ibsen attacking at .278 and Wilson recording four blocks and collecting three service aces. Junior libero Taylor Abelli (Cheshire) led the way with 15 digs, junior  outside hitter Britt Carrier (Southington) digging ten, senior outside hitter Rachael Joy (Huntington Station, NY) and Slonski nine each and junior setter Ashley Markley (Preston) eight. Markley also registered 18 assists, Carrier two aces. Wilson and Markley combined to serve 37 balls with just two errors.

"We're really not executing our first and second contacts right now, it's making it very difficult to run the offense," added Vandermeer. "We need to run a quicker offense. We need to run it quicker to our outsides, but in order to do that, our middles have to be ready to run a much quicker offense. We have a couple of kids with size, but overall, we're athletic bangers, so we need to get used to hitting balls that are 4-5 feet off the net."

Saturday, Eastern hosts Salve Regina University at 11 a.m. and Babson College at 3 p.m.

Roger Williams U.  3, Eastern Conn. 1

Roger Williams (1-0)           22 25 25 25
Eastern Conn. (0-1)            25 17 17 15