WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — Taking the floor for a competitive match for the first time in 509 days, the Keene State College women’s volleyball team was dealt a tough 3-2 (25-19, 12-25, 25-22, 13-25, 11-15) setback by Eastern Connecticut State University in its 2021 spring Little East Conference opener Sunday afternoon at Geissler Gymnasium.

It was a back-and-forth affair the entire time, as KSC (0-1, 0-1 LEC) took the first and third sets only to see Eastern rebound with emphatic wins in the second and fourth. The Owls built a three-point lead in the decisive fifth frame, but the Warriors (1-0, 1-0) eventually knotted it at 10 and scored five of the final six points to secure the win.

The Owls slowed Eastern to a grinding halt in the opening set, holding them to just nine kills and seven errors while finishing with 12 and four themselves in a 25-19 win, but ECSU hit .200 or better in each of the final four frames and .272 for the match.

KSC, after a .229 hitting percentage in the first, finished at .132. In Keene State’s two set wins, they combined for 25 kills and nine miscues, while in the three they dropped, they combined for just 17 kills and made 13 errors. The Owls stayed in it with a big game at the net, racking up 11 blocks. Elizabeth Johnson had one solo and four block assists, while three others had multiple block assists.

Freshman setter Kacie Blanchet helped the Owls in her collegiate debut, finishing with 25 assists and 10 digs.

Sydney Johnson hit .281 while racking up 12 kills against only three errors. She was the only KSC player to have double-digit kills in the match.

Megan Palmer finished with eight and Emilyann Ashford seven.

Freshman libero Reagan Fleming led the Owls with 13 digs in her first collegiate match.

The Owls take their home court at Spaulding Gymnasium for the first time since November 2, 2019 when they take on Rhode Island College on Wednesday, April 7 at 6 p.m.