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Women's Volleyball: Warriors Excel Down the Stretch, Surprise UMass Boston in LEC

Sophomore outside hitters Alaetra Long (left) and Abby Stern combined for 20 kills and a .250 attack percentage as the Warriors upended three-time defending LEC tournament champion UMass Boston Friday night at the Clark Athletic Center.
Sophomore outside hitters Alaetra Long (left) and Abby Stern combined for 20 kills and a .250 attack percentage as the Warriors upended three-time defending LEC tournament champion UMass Boston Friday night at the Clark Athletic Center.

BOSTON – Sophomore Alaetra Long (Lincoln, NE) had nine kills with a .318 attack percentage to go along with ten digs to lead the Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team to its first win since 2003 on the home court of three-time defending Little East Conference champion University of Massachusetts Boston with straight set scores of 25-23, 25-17, 25-23 Friday night at the Clark Athletic Center.

Eastern (6-4, 1-1 Little East) had lost its last six matches at UMass Boston dating back to 2008 and was 1-11 vs. the Beacons in the last 12 meetings over that time after winning the first 12 matches in the series. UMass (7-3, 1-1 Little East) has won eight of the last nine LEC tournament titles.s

Eastern commited only ten attack errors all night, showing a .214 attack percentage. UMB attacked at .120 and commited 21 attack errors and 11 service errors.

Behind Long, sophomore Abby Stern (Manchester) had 11 kills, freshman Madison Bell (Salem) 20 digs, senior Jackie Orlowski (Woodstock) four blocks and junior setter Mckenzie Maneggia (Andover) 15 assists and two service aces. Senior Leah Sopneski (Deep River) chipped in ten assists and two service aces.

Senior Eileen Shi led UMB with 11 kills but attacked at -.029. Emily Czapiewska added seven kills but attacked at .074.

After attacking at just.059 in the first set, Eastern followed with a mark of .303 in the second and .290 in the third. In the key second set victory that gave the Warriors a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five, Stern had five kills and attacked at .400 , Bell seven digs and Maneggia six assists.

There were 11 ties and five lead changes when the Warriors squeaked out their second two-point win of the night in the third set. Eastern  led by as many as five, 21-16 but the Beacons crawled back to take their first lead since 10-9 on a kill by Shi to make it 23-22. The Warriors, however, reeled off the final three points, regaining the serve and tying the set on a Stern kill from Maneggia. With Stern serving, six-foot  freshman Anna Barry (Andover) and Orlowski  took turns by solo blocking Shi to close out the set and match. It was Barry's only block of the match.

Eastern ran off six straight points in the first set to move out to a five-point, 18-13 lead, with Stern and Long contributing kills in the decisive run. Eastern owned the second set after erasing a one-point deficit with four straight points that made it 13-10. The Beacons commited back-to-back attack errors and Barry put the ball down on a set by Maneggia that gave Eastern the three-point lead.  The hosts did not get closer that two point thereafter.

Saturday, Eastern faces Anna Maria College at 1 p.m. and Framingham State at 3 p.m. in non-conference play at Framingham, MA.