HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team dug back to tie the match with a fourth-set win, but couldn't hold an 11-6 lead in the decisive set in dropping a five-set decision to Trinity College in the first match of the Trinity College Invitational Friday night at Ray Oosting Gymnasium. Trinity won by 21-25, 25-18, 25-17, 21-25, 15-13.
Eastern (3-2) led by 11-6 in the fifth set on a kill by senior Carly Balskus (Hebron) on a set from senior Leah Sopneski (Deep River), but was outscored 9-2 the rest of the way. Trinity (1-1) tied the match, 12-12, on a kill from Hannah Engstrom – who had just entered the match – and went ahead for good on an Eastern attack error. Sophomore Emma Drolet (Riverside, RI) contributed two kills in the decisive set to help the Warriors move out to a 9-5 lead.
Eastern, which had beaten Trinity on its own court in the opening round of this tournament each of the past two years, got five kills and six digs from sophomore Abby Stern (Manchester), three kills from freshman Anna Barry (Andover) and five digs and four assists from junior Mckenzie Maneggia (Andover) to strike first with the first-set win.
Facing elimination, Eastern tied the match and forced a deciding set with its fourth-set victory. In the fourth, the Warriors climbed out of a 12-6 hole and later scored six straight to pull even for the first time, 15-15, on a kill from senior Caryn Sibiskie (Rockfall). A kill from Drolet and a Trinity attack error allowed the Warriors to open up a 21-18 lead and the Bantams never got closer than two the rest of the way. Stern, Barry and Balskus combined for ten of the team's 13 kills in the set and Sopneski and Maneggia combied for 13 assists. Freshman Madison Bell (East Lyme) led the Warriors in the set with seven digs, Sopneski chipping in six.
In five sets, Barry led Eastern with 15 kills and a .281 attack percentage, Stern adding 11 kills. Bell led all Eastern players with 21 digs and four service aces, Stern following with 16, Maneggia 14 and Balskus and Sopneski 11 each. Sibiski and senior Jackie Orlowski (Woodstock) each totaled five block assists. Maneggia (21) and Sopneski (18) combined for 39 of the team's 41 assists.
Saturday at Trinity, Eastern faces Clark University at 10 a.m. and Westfield State University at 2 p.m.