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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Merrimack’s Duggan flying high in Ocean State

College Journal

Jenn Duggan isn’t you’re prototypical outside hitter on the volleyball court, but she sure is getting the job done for Salve Regina University.

At 5-foot-6, the junior from Merrimack is playing a spot on the court normally played by girls three to four inches taller. Her height hasn’t been an issue at all. It’s certainly not stopping her from soaring above the net and finishing off critical points for the 22-2 Seahawks. ...

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Jenn Duggan isn’t you’re prototypical outside hitter on the volleyball court, but she sure is getting the job done for Salve Regina University.

At 5-foot-6, the junior from Merrimack is playing a spot on the court normally played by girls three to four inches taller. Her height hasn’t been an issue at all. It’s certainly not stopping her from soaring above the net and finishing off critical points for the 22-2 Seahawks.

“Sometimes during warm ups I wonder if the other team is questioning why I’m an outside hitter,” Duggan said. “I like to go out there and show them why I’m where I am.”

The main reason may be her leaping ability. If the gymnasium didn’t have a roof, she just might leave the building.

“Yeah, I can jump,” said Duggan, who has a vertical leap of 24 inches.

She’s been a force at the net all season for the Newport, R.I., school. She leads the team in kills (231) and service aces (42), while currently third in digs (230) and fifth in total blocks (17).

Yet something about last week’s performance stands out above the previous weeks.

The Seahawks went 3-0 between Oct. 13-19, highlighted by a win over No. 24 Roger Williams University in the championship match of the 2013 Rhody Four Tournament at the Wildcat Center on the
Johnson and Wales University campus Oct. 18.

In a preview of Wednesday’s Commonwealth Coast Conference showdown, the Seahawks escaped with a five-set victory over the nationally-ranked Hawks – thanks in large part a double-double by Duggan (17 kills, 11 digs) - to claim their first title in the annual event between four Ocean State schools (Rhode Island College, Johnson and Wales, Roger Williams and Salve Regina).

The win marked only the second victory in 20 meetings for Salve Regina over Roger Williams, and the first for the Seahawks over a nationally-ranked program.

In the deciding set, Roger Williams won six of the first seven points before Salve Regina mounted its comeback. The Seahawks and Hawks will meet again Wednesday at Roger Williams in Bristol, R.I., with first place in the league on the line.

“We heard so much about Roger Williams going into that tournament,” Duggan said. “They’re nationally ranked and we were the underdog. We had nothing to lose and just went out and proved we can compete against the best.

“But Wednesday we’ve got to come back down to Earth and be ready for another tough match.”

Earlier in the week, the junior recorded a double-double in a 3-0 conference victory over Curry with 10 kills and 11 digs, while hitting .381. The outside hitter then hit .500 in two sets against Rhode Island in a 3-0 win.

It all added up to her third Commonwealth Coast Conference Athlete of the Week honor. That’s her second straight honor and third such award in five weeks.

CHRIS SMITH

Plymouth State University junior defensive back Chris Smith, of Merrimack, earned Massachusetts State Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his performance in last Saturday’s 56-28 loss to Bridgewater State University.

Smith stepped in as a reserve on kickoff returns and at punter and made the most of his opportunity for the Panthers (1-5 overall, 0-4 MASCAC), earning weekly conference honors for the first time in his career.

The 5-foot-9, 186-pounder averaged 46.5 yards on four kickoff returns, including an 80-yard burst for a touchdown in the second quarter.

He had a 44-yard return into BSU territory in the first quarter that set up PSU’s first touchdown and a 36-yarder in the second quarter to give the Panthers good field position.

Smith also handled PSU’s punting duties against the Bears, averaging 34 yards on his three boots, and collected five tackles and a pass break-up on defense.

C.J. VALLIE

University of New England men’s cross country runner C.J. Vallie is doing the Gate City proud.

The sophomore from Nashua finished fourth in a field of 169 runners at last Friday’s Emmanuel College Invitational held at historic Franklin Park in Boston.

His 8K time of 27 minutes, 4 seconds, placed him just eight seconds behind the winner – Ian MacLean of Babson College – helped the Nor’easters to a second-place showing in the 16-team field and locked up Commonwealth Coast Conference Runner of the Week honors for the period ending Oct. 20.

EMILY CHEN

Nashua’s Emily Chen is a busy woman at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. The 2010 graduate of Bishop Guertin, who is the captain and coxswain of the MIT women’s lightweight crew team, coxed the team for the third consecutive year in Sunday’s Head of the Charles Regatta, the world’s largest rowing event.

Chen, who double majors in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Ancient and Medieval Studies, is a distinguished Burchard Scholar and was honored for her academic success by the College Rowing Coaches Association when the organization released its list of the Scholar Athletes for 2012 and 2013.

To be eligible for the Scholar Athlete Award, a student must have met all the eligibility rules as defined by MIT, be in the second, third or fourth year of eligibility, rowed in the institution’s NCAA or IRA eligible boat for a minimum of 75 percent of the spring races or racing in a regional conference event and had a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA.

The College Journal is a weekly feature in The Telegraph. If you know of a college athlete from Greater Nashua that should be recognized, email sports@nashuatelegraph.com.