WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Junior outside hitter Alaetra Long (Lincoln, NE) had ten kills and 16 digs and handled 31 receives without an error to pace the Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team to its third straight win -- a four-set decision over Rhode Island College in Little East Conference competition Wednesday night at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. Scores were 25-18, 25-16, 23-25, 25-19.
Eastern (8-5, 3-0 LEC) remains one of four unbeatens in the Little East and is one-half game ahead of Western Connecticut, Keene State College and Plymouth State University, all at 2-0. Eastern and Western meet Oct. 16 at Geissler Gym in the Warriors' next home appearance.
After Rhode Island jumped to a quick five-point lead on the way to a two-point victory to avoid the sweep in the third set, Eastern appeared well on its way to the win in the fourth set before the visitors used a 13-2 scoring run to cut Eastern's 12-point lead to one, 19-18. Following a timeout, Eastern responded by outscoring the Anchorwomen 6-1 the rest of the way. With Eastern clinging to the 19-18 lead after the timeout, sophomore middle Anna Barry (Andover) followed with a kill off Rhode Island's serve to help the Warriors regain the momentum, and sophomore libero Madison Bell (Salem) served four straight points, getting two on aces and junior outside Abby Stern (Manchester) and senior middle Lydia Niderno (Willington) each contributing a kill.
Stern (16), Barry (12) and Long all finished with double-figure kills, with Niderno collecting nine kills without an error for a .500 attack percentage on 18 attempts. Long, Stern (14), Bell (11) and senior setter Mckenzie Maneggia (Andover) (11) all finished with double-figure digs. Bell followed Long by handling 27 receptions with only error and Stern was perfect on 11. As a team, the Warriors were guilty of only two reception errors on the evening.
Bell, Long and senior setter Sierra Orr (Woodland, WA) each had three of the team's 11 serve aces and Barry led the way with two block solos and two block assists.
Sophomore outside hitter Amelia Murphy, last week's LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Week, led RIC with 14 kills but was the only RIC player in double digits. Senior middle Jessica Brielmaier chipped in nine kills. Junior outside hitter Jenaeya Evans, her team's most versatile player, had six kills and a team-high 16 digs and received a team-high 26 serves.
The win over the Anchorwomen was Eastern's ninth straight. The Warriors swept RIC in the LEC semifinals a year ago at Geissler Gymnasium on the way to the title.
Saturday, Eastern visits the University of Southern Maine in a conference match at noon and also meets Curry College at Southern Maine at 2 p.m. in a non-conference match.