Beaver loses close match to Fayette in PSUAC Championship game

2018 PSUAC Runner-up, Penn State Beaver
2018 PSUAC Runner-up, Penn State Beaver

By: Matylda Zamudio

University Park, Pa.-- After defeating the number one-seeded Penn State Brandywine in the PSUAC semifinals last night, the Penn State Beaver women's volleyball marched into battle against Penn State Fayette to fight for the PSUAC Championship title on Tuesday evening. The Lady Lions had a tough match ahead of them against the conference rival Fayette, who had beaten Beaver twice earlier in the season, including the team's final regular season match. This is the Lady Lions' sixth-consecutive year in the playoffs and the team hopes to bring home the 2018-2019 season title tonight.

Beaver took a minute to get going, allowing Fayette to score the first two points of the game, but an early kill by senior Brooke Tomasko followed by an attack error by Fayette got the game within a six-point run at 2-8, forcing Beaver to take its first time-out. Halfway through the set, Fayette's offense began to put pressure on Beaver and widen the lead to 11 points at 10-21. In the final duration of the set, Beaver fought back and chopped down Fayette's lead to seven points thanks to a late-set kill from freshman Emily Keener on an assist by freshman Emma Dellinger. However, falling behind early sealed Beaver's fate in set 1, losing 17-25.

The teams went back and forth at the beginning of the second set until freshman Stephanie Stadjuhar scored three back-to-back kills to give Beaver a two-point edge over Fayette. However, two attack errors and a bad set by Beaver propelled Fayette to tie the game at 11-11. The teams, once again, went back and forth on lead changes, until Fayette went scored four straight points at 19-20 to put them at set-point (19-24). Beaver tried to hang-on, but Fayette pulled away with the set (21-25).

With a two-set deficit looming over their shoulders, the Lady Lions were determined to slow Fayette's down and change the course of the game in the third set. Beaver took an early 3-point lead thanks to junior Alexis Albrecht, who scored two back-to-back service aces. Fayette quickly responded by tying the game at 3-3, but then allowed Beaver to take a 5 point lead midway through the set (11-6).  Then, the Beaver ladies found their rhythm on both sides of the floor and forced errors from Fayette to take a 10-point lead at 21-11 before Fayette called a time-out. In the final minutes of the set, Beaver hung-on and pulled away with the set-win, 25-16. 

Now on a come-back, Beaver came out strong in the fourth set, taking an early 5-point lead at 9-4. Beaver kept the pressure on Fayette's defenders and steadily built the lead to 7 points at 21-14, forcing Fayette to take a time-out. In the final minutes of the set, Beaver locked down on defense and forced attack errors from Fayette for a final 6-point run to take the set 25-15.

And just like that, Beaver had taken the momentum from Fayette to force a final fifth-set battle for all the chips. The teams went neck to neck for the first few minutes, but Beaver then went on a four-point run at 9-5 over Fayette. But Fayette responded and got within striking distance at 9-8.  Fayette then ran into trouble with attacking errors and with a late-set kill from Stadjuhar, Beaver built the lead back to three points at 11-8 before Fayette took a final time-out. But then Fayette showed the same resilience and grit that had earned them a top spot in the division, forcing a huge five-point run to take a two-point lead over Beaver late in the set. But a late-kill by Stadjuhar on an assist by Keener followed by an attack error by Fayette on the next rally tied the game at 13-13. But a late attack error by Beaver followed by a final kill by Fayette stopped Beaver's post-season in its tracks (14-16). Beaver lost the close battle 3-2. 

Heading the offense was Stadjuhar with 19 kills and Tomasko with 13 kills and 4 service aces. Keener contributed 44 assists for the evening. Albrecht has a commendable performance on both sides of the floor with 26 digs and 4 services aces.  On defense, Dellinger tallied on 23 digs, and Ramiya White recorded 2 solo blocks for the night.

Despite the outcome of the game, the Lady Lions went down with guns blazing and had a great season thanks to their magnetic team chemistry and hard work, which helped them make it all the way to the PSUAC Championship game as well as finishing 17-12 for the season.