Eastern can't complete comeback in first-round ECAC loss to Salve
NEWPORT, R.I. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University and Salve Regina University women's volleyball teams staged epic battles in their two regular-season contests this season.
At left: Katie Wilson
For those expecting a similar struggle in the third meeting between the programs in the first round of the ECAC New England Division III Tournament, they weren't disappointed.
In its first post-season tournament in five years, however, fourth-seeded Eastern attacked at only -0.38 in the decisive fifth set in losing for the first time in 12 matches against fifth-seeded Salve Regina Thursday night at the Rodgers Athletic Center. Salve won by 27-25, 25-21, 16-25, 19-25, 15-8.
After attacking well under .100 in the first two set losses by a combined six points, Eastern (19-14) attacked at .216 in the nine-point third-set victory and at .389 in taking the fourth set by six points. The Warriors stumbled to -0.38 in their final set of the season.
In the decisive fifth set, the Seahawks responded by jumping out to an 8-3 lead, led by two blocks and a kill from junior Jill Diffendaffer. After the two teams switched sides, the Warriors closed the gap to 8-5 by taking two straight points. The Seahawks were still clinging to a three-point advantage at 10-7 when they cemented the match by taking five of the next six points, including a game-clinching kill by Jennifer Duggan.
Eastern senior Katie Wilson (Pittsburg, CA) led all players in the match with 23 kills but attacked at only .188 on a career-high 69 attempts. She also had four block solos and four block assists and 13 digs. Junior Erynn Miller (Stratford) recorded a career-high 30 digs, with freshman Allie Luppi (Tewksbury, MA) adding 18 digs. Senior Danielle Bourne (Branford) totaled 12 kills, sophomores Allie Henry (Middletown) and Jess Patrizi (Beacon Falls) combining for 41 assists.
Salve (18-14), which set a program season record for wins this year, got 19 kills and 17 digs from Duggan and 28 digs from Megan Clancy.
Wilson concluded a three-year career at Eastern after transferring from the Division II level as the eighth player in program history to record as many as 1,000 career kills, only the third such player to reach that milestone in less than four years. In program history, only Wilson and former All-America and E-Club Hall of Famer Kathy Kimball registered both 1,000 kills and 100 block solos. Wilson also departs ranked fifth all-time in career attack percentage (.286), fifth in block solos (107) and tenth in attack attempts (995).
Wilson led the Warriors this year in numerous individual categories, including points per set (5.40), kills (488), attack percentage (.302), service aces (62), block solos (52), assists (49) and total blocks (101) and was second in reception percentage (.946), reception attempts (500) and digs (342). Bourne reached 100 kills in a season for the first time (146). Miller recorded a team-high 440 digs and led the Warriors in receptioin percentage (.949) and reception attempts (573).
Eastern ended its season on a two-match losing streak after ending the regular season on a seven-match winning streak. The Warriors had beaten Salve twice in the regular season, once in five sets and once in four sets.
Salve Regina 3, Eastern Conn. 2
Eastern Conn. (19-14) 25 21 25 25 8
Salve Regina (18-14) 27 25 16 19 15