WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Freshman Alaetra Long (Lincoln, NE) had five kills without an error in the first set to spark Eastern Connecticut State University's first-set attack percentage of .500 and the Warriors went on to a Little East Conference women's volleyball sweep of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Tuesday evening at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. Scorers were 25-10, 25-13, 25-21.
A winner of five straight and seven of nine, Eastern (13-6, 3-1 LEC) scored nine of the final ten points of the first set to win going away, with Long putting down three of the final seven points in that run. Behind the serving of sophomore setter Mckenzie Maneggia (Andover), Eastern ripped off the first nine points of the second set, with senior Carly Balskus (Hebron) and Long combing on all seven of the team's kills in that opening spurt, with two additional points coming on attack errors by UMass Dartmouth (8-10, 0-4 LEC).
In the middle portion of the third set, Eastern broke from a four-point lead with a 7-1 rush that pushed its advantage to ten, 22-12. Senior setter Amanda Tourjee (Waterford) came off the bench to serve six straight points in that stretch, with four UMass attack errors fueling Eastern's run.
As a team, Eastern attacked at .287 and commited only one reception error in downing the Corsairs for the 43rd time in this 46-match series, needing only one hour and 11 minutes to complete its third straight sweep, ninth of the year. Eastern has won 11 straight sets, dating back four matches ago. UMass managed to attack at only .045. Defensively, junior Jackie Orlowski (Woodstock) and freshman Lauren Notholt (Milford) each contributed three block assists to Eastern's total of 12.
In the match, Long led Eastern with 12 kills and a .423 attack percentage, Balskus adding ten kills and a .318 attack percentage. Maneggia topped the team with 18 assists, junior setter Leah Sopneski (Deep River) adding ten. Senior libero Michelle Valliere (Lebanon), last week's LEC Defensive Player-of-the-Year, totaled a team-high 16 digs, Maneggia adding 13.
Sophomore Nicole Silverman was UMD's only player in double figures in kills, with 14, attacked at .243, and was perfect on 23 reception attempts. Sophomore setter Jordan Rittberger had 18 assists, sophomore libero Jillian Sykora a match-high 18 digs and junior Amanda LaCroix adding 13.
In non-conference play Saturday at North Adams, MA, Eastern faces Bridgewater State University at 6 p.m. and host Mass College at 8 p.m.