WORCESTER, Mass. - The Worcester State University volleyball team split its final home tri-match on Saturday afternoon a John P. Brissette Court. Worcester State opened the day by defeating Framingham State 3-0 (25-12, 25-10, 25-22) in Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference action, before falling to Clark University 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 31-29) in the second match.
With the split, the Lancers move to 14-8 overal on the season and 5-0 in MASCAC play. With Clark defeating Framingham State in the middle match of the afternoon, the Cougars jump to 11-10 on the season, while the Rams fall to 14-10 and 3-2 in the MASCAC.
The Lancers had no problem dispatching the Rams to open the afternoon, taking control right from the get-go. Thanks to three early kills from junior Stephanie Chapin (Hampden, Mass.), the Lancers opened the match on an 8-1 run and never looked back, cruising to the 25-10 first set victory.
The second set started tighter in the early going, but Worcester State would pull away at the end to go ahead 2-0. With the Lancers ahead by a score of 11-7 nearing the midway point of the set, the team piled up a 10-1 run, capped by an assisted block by Chapin and senior Amari King (Lawrence, Mass.), putting the hosts ahead 21-8 and putting the set out of reach.
Despite opening the third set with three straight miscues, the Rams refused to go down quietly in a much more competitive set three. Framingham State responded with a 6-0 run to go ahead 6-3. The Lancers chipped away at the lead, and when trailing 10-9, scored a 7-1 run to go up by a score of 16-11. The five-point deficit proved too much for the visitors to overcome, and moments later, the Lancers clinched the match on a kill from senior Lauren Murphy (Taunton, Mass.).
King and senior Emily Carens (Northborough, Mass.) each had double-doubles in the match to lead the Lancers, as King finished with 11 kills and 13 digs and Carens with 11 kills and 12 digs. Freshman Brandee Thomas (North Kingstown, R.I.) led Framingham State with seven kills.
In the middle match, Clark defeated Framingham State 3-0 (25-15, 25-16, 25-19). Clark was led by 11 kills and eight digs from senior Ana Patricia Mercado (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico), while Framingham was again led by Thomas's 10 kills.
Defense was the story in the day's final match between the Lancers and Cougars, and it would be the guests that would prevail in the end.
Clark's Mercado was absolutely on fire in the opening set to propel the Cougars to the early 1-0 advantage. The senior recorded the first six Cougar kills, five of which coming on a match-opening 7-2 run. She would finish with eight in the set as the Cougars took the early advantage, winning the set 25-20.
Clark led by a score of 23-18 in the waning moments of the second set and appeared poised to cruise to the victory, but the Lancers battled back with a 5-1 run to cut the deficit to 24-23. A well-timed Cougar timeout settled the visitors however, setting up a set-clinching kill from Mercado to put Clark ahead 2-0.
A wild back-and-forth third set finally went the way of the Cougars by a score of 31-29, after the set featured 20 ties and nine lead changes. The Lancers had four set-points at the end of the set that they couldn't close out, and the Cougars finally capitalized on their third match-point on a service ace from senior Rachel Webb (Celina, Texas) to nab the win on the road.
Freshmen were the story of match two for the Lancers, as rookies Natalie Gillis (Ashland, Mass.) and Leelle Tyler (Longmeadow, Mass.) each led the way with 10 kills. Tyler also recorded an eye-popping 24 digs for an impressive double-double, but was outdone by libero Megan Leavens (Storrs, Conn.) who led all players with 31 in the match.
Mercado recorded a double-double of her own to lead the Cougars to the victory, grabbing 16 kills and 13 digs. Junior Corina Picon (Irvington, N.Y.) was also in double figures with 10 kills, while Marimo Oka (Fukuoka, Japan) led the way defensively with 21 digs.
Next up for the Lancers, they will host Senior Night on Wednesday evening as Bridgewater State comes to town. Clark hosts Mount Holyoke on Tuesday, and the Rams host Mass. Maritime on Wednesday in their next contests.