GORHAM, Maine – Two streaks came to a grinding halt Saturday afternoon when the Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team dropped a four-set Little East Conference decision to the University of Southern Maine at Hill Gymnasium. Scores were 25-15, 14-25, 20-25, 21-25.
Last year's LEC regular-season and playoff champion, Eastern (9-6, 3-1 LEC) lost for the first time after 12 straight conference regular-season and playoff wins dating back to 2018. In addition, Eastern's run of 13 straight set victories over Southern Maine (8-10, 2-2 LEC) came to an end in the second-set loss. The Warriors had swept the Huskies each of the last four years and had extended the streak to 13 with Saturday's victory in the first set.
Prior to Saturday, Eastern had defeated Southern Maine 13 times in the previous 14 meetings and 19 times in the last 21.
After each team won a set handily Saturday, there were 20 ties and lead changes in the third and fourth sets. In the all-important third set that moved USM to within a victory of winning the match, Eastern led early but lost the momentum that it would never re-gain after the Huskies turned a three-point deficit into a three-point, 11-8 lead with a six-point run. Junior Lauren Delissio served the final five of those points (including an ace which closed out the scoring streak) and 5-foot-9 inch sophomore Kacey Foerster (match leader with 13 kills) had three kills.
With Eastern needing a victory to force a deciding 15-point set, there were 12 ties and lead changes in the fourth set. Junior Lauren Notholt's (Milford) kill gave the Warriors their final lead, 18-17 before the hosts again reeled off six straight to move out to a 23-18 advantage. Kills from three different players and three Eastern attack errors accounted for that six-point run.
After attacking at .226 in the first set, Eastern attacked well under .100 the rest of the way, committing 11 errors in the fourth set and finishing the day with a .077 percentage.
Sophomore middle Anna Barry (Andover) led Eastern against USM with eight kills, junior outside Alaetra Long (Lincoln, NE) and sophomore libero Madison Bell (Salem) each collecting 13 digs, and senior Mckenzie Maneggia (Andover) and senior Sierra Orr (Woodland, WA) combining for 30 assists.
Eastern salvaged a win later in the day by sweeping Curry College, 25-21, 25-18, 25-13, in a non-conference match.
In a re-match of last year's LEC final, Eastern visits conference leader Keene State College Saturday at noon before facing Massachusetts College in a non-conference match at 2 p.m. at Keene State. The Warriors host Western Connecticut Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.