By: Matylda Zamudio
University Park, Pa. –The stage was set at Rec Hall for the semifinal round of the PSUAC playoffs, where the Penn State Beaver Lady Lions went head-to-head against number one seeded Penn State Brandywine on Monday night. With a spot in the championship on the line, the Lady Lions would leave everything on the court to get past Brandywine and extend their post-season.
In the first set, Beaver ran into error trouble in the earlier minutes of the game, allowing Brandywine to take an earlier lead at 4-6. But thanks to a kill from Stephanie Stadjuhar followed by an attack error from Brandywine, Beaver gained the lead at 8-7 and again at 9-8. Then, Beaver got hot on offense and went on a 10-point run to take an 11-point lead at 19-8 before calling a time-out. In the final minutes of the set, Maria Slater played a huge role forcing Brandywine to make two attack errors, putting Beaver at set-point (24-13). Brandywine fought back and scored the next three points, but Stadjuhar scored a late-set kill on the final rally. Beaver won the first set 25-16.
The tables turned for Beaver in the second set, allowing a four-point run by Brandywine in the earlier minutes of the set (0-4). But Beaver battled back to cut Brandywine's lead to only two points at 2-4 and again at 3-5 after Tomasko earned her second kill of set-two. But after forcing errors from Beaver's offense combined with an in-sync Brandywine offensive, Beaver trailed by six points before calling a time-out at 6-11. As the set continued, the early deficit and attacking errors by Beaver gave the second set away to Brandywine by double-digits, 12-25.
With a set each under their belts, Beaver looked to reclaim the lead in the third set. However, like the previous set, Beaver, once again, allowed an early run by Brandywine (0-5). But Beaver responded and tied the game at 8-8 and again at 10-10. Then, Stadjudar stuck down a kill on an assist by Emily Keener to give Beaver its first lead in the third set. Beaver steadily increased the lead to five points at 21-16 and pulled out the third set-win 25-20.
Although the ladies were up 2-1, the scores reversed for Beaver in the fourth set. At the beginning of the set, Beaver took an early three-point lead at 5-2 after Tomasko scored an early service ace. Then, Ramiya White earned back-to-back kills to give Beaver a five-point lead at 10-5. Midway through the set, Beaver started making errors on its side of the floor, which helped Brandywine tied the game at 11-11 and then take the lead on the next rally before Beaver called a time-out. As the set went on, Brandywine shut down Beaver's offensive and Brandywine pulled away with the fifth set (20-25), tying the game two sets to two (20-25).
With both team's seasons on the line in the fifth set, the tension could be cut with a knife as the conference opponents awaited the whistle and the outcome of the final set. Beaver came out aggressive in the first minutes, scored three-straight points at 3-0. Then, Brandywine got on the board in the next rally (3-1), and Slater responded with a huge block to give Beaver another three-point lead. But Brandywine fought back, tying the game at 4-4. Then, Slater earned quick kill followed by a service ace from Tomasko, and another kill from Stadjuhar on an assist by Keener to swing momentum back to Beaver before Brandywine called a time-out (8-4). However, Brandywine got within striking distance at 11-9 and again at 14-12 with the game at set-point for Beaver. On the final rally, Tomasko slammed down her 17th kill on an assist by Keener to edge-out the win at 15-12 and send Beaver to the next round of the PSUAC playoffs.
Tomasko led the offensive with 17 kills and 5 service aces followed by Stadjuhar with 12 kills. Keener had a big night contributing 42 assists. Albrecht was a force on both sides of the court with 24 digs and 5 service aces. White and Slater led the defensive; White with 3 solo blocks and Slater with solo blocks.
Beaver will now face Penn State Fayette in Tuesday night's PSUAC Championship match. The game begins at 6 p.m.