HARTFORD, Conn. -- For the Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team, Saturday morning's match against Clark University played out almost exactly as had the previous night's five-set win over host Trinity College at the Trinity College Invitational.
Except for the ending.
In both, Eastern bounced back to tie the match in the fourth set after losing the first match and third. Also in both, the fifth set was highly-contested until the late stages. However, while it was Eastern which surged down the stretch against Trinity by breaking the final tie (14-14) en route to a 20-18 win, it instead was Clark Saturday morning that pulled away.
Saturday, Clark (3-4) scored the final six points of the fifth set after Eastern had moved out to an 11-9 lead on back-to-back kills by sophomore middle hitter Anna Barry (Andover). Clark's first two points of the final six-point run came on kills, but the final four were the result of Eastern errors (two attack errors and two reception error) that allowed the Cougars to prevail for the eighth time in the last nine matches in the series (Eastern's win in that run came in five sets at Trinity in 2017).
Set scores were 26-28, 26-24, 22-25, 25-18, 11-15.
Returning soon after to close out the tournament, Eastern (3-2) handed a fresh Westfield State University (2-5) team a three-set win. The Owls had lost in five to Clark Friday night, then was swept by Trinity Saturday afternoon.
Eastern, a winner of 18 of the previous 19 matches with Westfield – including sweeps each of the last three times – attacked at .014 against the Owls in dropping 17-25, 25-22, 25-23 decisions. Barry, last year's Little East Conference Rookie-of-the-Year, did not play against Westfield.
Against Clark, Barry attacked at .354 with 24 kills and five blocks, while junior Abby Stern (Manchester) followed with 22 kills. Junior Alaetra Long (Lincoln, NB) recorded her 500th kill in the match while senior setter Mckenzie Maneggia (Andover) reached the 1,000 assist milestone at Eastern with 39 against the Cougars. Long (42) and Stern (35) combined for 77 digs, sophomore Meg Verizzi (Lebanon) chipping in 27 and Maneggia 13.
Eastern opens its home season Saturday, hosting Connecticut College at 11 a.m. and Emerson College at 3 p.m.