HARTFORD -- The Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team salvaged a win at the Trinity College Invitational Saturday at Ray Oosting Gymnasium, sweeping Westfield State University hours after being swept by Clark University.
Coming off a disappointing five-set loss to host Trinity Friday night – a match where it forced a fifth set but lost an 11-6 lead in the decisive match played to 15 points -- Eastern (3-3) returned to the tournament Saturday morning and dropped straight sets to talented Clark (4-1) by scores of 25-13, 25-12, 25-15 before closing out the tournament with 25-13, 25-14, 25-16 wins over Westfield (0-7).
In last year's tournament, the roles were reversed on Saturday, when the Warriors upended Clark in five to stop a six-match losing streak at the hands of the Cougars, but were surprised by Westfield in losing to the Owls for the first time in 16 meetings in the series (Eastern later re-grouped to sweep Westfield later in the season).
In three tournament matches this weekend, six-foot freshman middle hitter Anna Barry (Andover) led all Eastern players with 35.5 points, 32 kills and a .365 attack percentage, and freshman libero Madison Bell (Salem) was the team leader in digs (50), reception attempts (63) and service aces (9).
Sophomore outside Abby Stern (Manchester) – last year's Little East Conference Rookie-of-the-Year – joined Barry among the team leaders with 25 kills and 31.0 points in three matches, but attacked at only .126 as the team managed just .162. Senior middle Caryn Sibiskie (Rockfall) had 15 kills and was third on the team with 18.0 points, with senior middle Carly Balskus (Hebron) adding 17.5 points and 15 kills.
Behind Bell, five additional players collected double-digit digs: Stern (31), senior setter Leah Sopneski (Deep River) (21), junior setter Mckenzie Maneggia (Andover) (20), Balskus (14) and freshman libero Meg Verizzi (Lebanon) (14). Stern (5), Sopneski (4) and Maneggia (4) also followed Bell in service aces. Maneggia's 50 assists and Sopneski's 34 led all players.
Sophomore outside Alaetra Long (Lincoln, NE) – one of Eastern's top players as a freshman -- appeared in only three set over the weekend due to illness.
Eastern opens Little East Conference play Saturday at Keene State College at noon, and also faces Husson University at 2 p.m. in a non-conference match. Keene swept Eastern twice last year, the second time in the Little East tournament semifinals.
Clark U. 3, Eastern Conn. 0
Eastern Conn. (3-3) 13 12 15
Clark U. (4-1) 25 25 25
Eastern Conn. 3, Westfield State U. 0
Eastern Conn. (4-3) 25 25 25
Westfield State (0-7) 13 14 16
Abby Stern 5 kills, 7 digs, .913 rec. pct.
Anna Barry 10 kills, .528 attack pct.
Madison Bell 15 digs
Mckenzie Maneggia 14 assists, 5 digs
Leah Sopneski 8 assists, 10 digs
Meg Verizzi 9 digs
vs. Westfield State
Abby Stern 9 kills, .292 attack pct., 8 digs, 3 aces, 1.000 rec. pct.
Anna Barry 7 kills, .312 attack pct.
Caryn Sibiskie 6 kills, .385 attack pct.
Mckenzie Maneggia 15 assists, 3 aces
Leah Sopneski 8 assists