USM Volleyball Falls to Eastern Connecticut, Defeats UMPI

USM senior volleyball players Jess Williamson, Mo Raymond and Mariah Garcia are joined by family and friends on Senior Day (photo by Jason Johns).
USM senior volleyball players Jess Williamson, Mo Raymond and Mariah Garcia are joined by family and friends on Senior Day (photo by Jason Johns).

            GORHAM, Maine -- The University of Southern Maine women's volleyball team split a pair of matches Saturday on Senior Day at the Warren Hill Gymnasium.  The Huskies dropped a 3-0 decision (25-20, 25-27, 25-23) to Eastern Connecticut State University in a Little East Conference match before returning to the court to sweep the University of Maine Presque Isle 3-0 (25-22, 25-11, 25-18) in a non-conference match.

            The split on the final weekend of the regular season gives USM a 20-9 overall mark.  The loss to Eastern Connecticut gave the Huskies a 3-4 record in conference play.  Eastern Connecticut also defeated UMPI in straight sets to finish the regular season 17-8 overall and 4-3 in LEC play.  UMPI slides to 11-22 overall with the two non-conference losses.

            In the final LEC regular season standings, Southern Maine tied for fifth place despite the loss and will be the sixth seed for the championship tournament that starts Tuesday.  Eastern Connecticut tied for third place and will be the third seed in the tournament.  USM will travel to ECSU for a first-round match with the winner moving on to play second-seeded Keene State College later in the week.

            Rookie Abby Stern (Manchester, Conn.) led ECSU past USM posting a double-double.  Stern knocked down a team-high 14 kills and dug up 11 balls.  Classmate Alaetra Long (Lincoln, Neb.) had 13 kills, and senior Carly Balskus (Hebron, Conn.) contributed six kills.  Sophomore Mckenzie Maneggia (Andover, Conn.) and junior Leah Sopneski (Deep River, Conn.) combined for 30 assists, and senior libero Michelle Valliere (Lebanon, Conn.) matched Stern with 11 digs.

            USM senior Jess Williamson (Goffstown, N.H.) had a double-double leading all players with 16 kills and digging up 13 balls.  Sophomore Kylee Austin (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) had six kills, and senior Mo Raymond (Sanbornton, N.H./Winnisquam), sophomore Faolain Harrington (Auburn, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) and rookie Jamie Jannarone (Windham, Maine) had five kills apiece.

            Junior Nicole Schmitz (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham) directed the Huskies' attack with 35 assists, and senior libero Mariah Garcia (Brighton, Colo./Central) had 20 digs.

            Against UMPI, Raymond led USM with a season-high 13 kills, including seven in the second set on 10 attacks.  Williamson picked up her 14th double-double of the season with 11 kills and 11 digs.  Austin and Harrington combined for 12 kills at the middle hitter position.  Schmitz dished out 40 assists, and Garcia led all players with 16 digs.

            For the UMPI Owls, rookie Maddi Thweatt (Middleton, Idaho) had eight kills, and classmates Brooke Franklin (Baltimore, Md.) and Miranda Washinawatok (Shawano, Wis.) had five kills apiece.  Rookie Brittney Harper (East Mountain, N.S.) passed out 15 assists.  Washinawatok, who had a double-double against Eastern Connecticut (10 kills, 12 digs), led UMPI with nine digs.