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Women's Volleyball: By Sweeping LEC Leader, Warriors Gain Share of Regular-Season Title; Will Be Home Thursday

Sophomore Anna Barry (middle, facing camera) puts down one of her 16 kills in Saturday's sweep of Little East leader Plymouth State on the final day of the regular season at Geissler Gym. In her last seven matches, Barry is attacking at .506 and averaging 4.13 kills per set. (Photo by Sara Pisanelli)
Sophomore Anna Barry (middle, facing camera) puts down one of her 16 kills in Saturday's sweep of Little East leader Plymouth State on the final day of the regular season at Geissler Gym. In her last seven matches, Barry is attacking at .506 and averaging 4.13 kills per set. (Photo by Sara Pisanelli)

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Junior Abby Stern (Manchester) and sophomore Anna Barry (Andover) combined for 30 kills and a .536  attack percentage in leading the Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team to a sweep of Plymouth State University and into a share of the Little East Conference regular-season title for the second straight year. Set scores were 25-21, 25-21, 25-15.

Eastern (14-11, 6-2 LEC) also swept St. Joseph's College, L.I. (15-13) in a non-conference match 25-15, 25-21, 25-18.

Plymouth (30-4, 6-2 LEC) entered the match with a chance at its first outright LEC regular-season title ever and first No. 1 tournament seed, but slips to the No. 3 seed after losing only its fourth match away from home in 19 tries. The Panthers defeated St. Joseph's in a non-conference match, 25-21, 25-22, 25-20.

Eastern, Plymouth and Western Connecticut share the regular-season title. Western was awarded the No. 1 by beating both Plymouth and Eastern this season.

With the win – Eastern's fifth in its last six tries at home against Plymouth -- the Warriors gain a first-round tournament bye. They will begin defense of last year's tournament championship Thursday at 6 p.m. against the winner of a Tuesday first-round match between Plymouth and No. 6 University of Southern Maine. Southern Maine dumped visiting Eastern in four sets Oct. 5.

Behind Barry (.577) and Stern (.364), Eastern attacked at a season-high .352 against the Panthers, who had an eight-match winning streak ended in their most recent outing by Middlebury College this past Tuesday. Junior Alaetra Long (Lincoln, NE) chipped in eight kills and a .294 attack percentage for Eastern against Plymouth.

Defensively, sophomore Madison Bell (Salem) and Long combined for 30 of the team's 46 digs, with Bell (16) sharing game-high honors in that department with Plymouth senior Alisha Flanagan (Milton, NH) – her counterpart at the libero position. Long was perfect on 20 serve receives, Bell was good on 15 of 16 and Stern successful on 16 of 18.

Senior setter Mckenzie Maneggia (Andover) led Eastern with 22 assists, with senior Sierra Orr (Woodland, WA) adding 15.

Plymouth junior Carabeth Norklun led the Panthers with nine kills and a .368 attack percentage, sophomore Alexa Price setting for 27 assists, with Flanagan topping the squad with her 16 digs. She was also perfect on 17 serve receives.

Against St. Joseph's, Barry attacked at .565 with a match-high 15 kills in improving her season percentage to .365 – best in the LEC. Stern added 12 kills and three service aces, with sophomore Meg Verizzi (Lebanon) putting up 19 assists and Long leading both teams with 14 digs.