CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University volleyball team battled closely with one of the Little East Conference's top programs Wednesday night, but fell 3-0 in a conference matchup to Keene State at Glenbrook Gym.
The Spartans fall to 7-8 on the season and 0-3 in LEC play, while Keene State improves to 14-4 overall and 2-0 in conference play. The Owls hit .344 as a team, racking up 42 kills to Castleton's 15. Keene had four aces on the night while Castleton managed three aces of its own. Each side racked up multiple blocks, as the Owls combined for six blocks as a team and Castleton five.
Lizzie Goodrich had six kills and a pair of block assists on the evening, while Shannon Manchester added four kills and a solo block and two block assists for the Spartans. Bre MacDuff had two aces in addition to seven digs and 12 assists for Castleton, while Meghan Zawatsky added a team-high nine digs.
Megan Palmer and Ali McLoughlin led the way with 11 kills apiece for the Owls. McLoughlin was also part of three blocks, registering one solo and two assists. Olivia Mathieu racked up 18 digs on the evening, while Brianna Azzinaro dished out 26 assists. Elizabeth Johnson finished the night with eight kills and four block assists.
The opening set was a back-and-forth affair in the early-going, with Castleton jumping out to a 7-5 lead after a kill by Manchester. The Owls stormed back with a 7-0 run to take a 12-7 lead, but Castleton pulled back within four, 13-9. The two sides traded points once more, but the Owls finished on a 3-0 run to take the opening set, 25-16.
The second set was all Keene State, as the Owls cruised to a 25-4 win in the middle frame. After Castleton led 4-3 early, the Owls closed out on a 22-0 run behind the service of Mathieu. Mathieu managed just one ace in the frame, but Keene earned 20 of its points on kills in the set.
Castleton made the final set a battle, going on a 5-0 run late that featured kills from Madison Hamelink and Goodrich to make it 21-16. The Owls put a stop to the run with a kill from McLoughlin, jump-starting a 4-0 run to end the match, 25-16, and complete the 3-0 sweep.
Castleton returns to action Saturday at Rhode Island College. The match is slated to start at noon.