MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Penn State Harrisburg's women's volleyball team welcomed Valley Forge Christian and Notre Dame of Maryland to the Capital Union Building on Saturday, Sep. 15 for the blue and white's first tri-match of the 2012 season. Unfortunately for the visitors, the Lions refused to play gracious host. Instead, the ladies downed the Patriots in the opening contest 3-1 and capped the day's action in the final match by beating the Gators 3-0.
In their first match of the day, the Lions had a slight misstep in set number two but it turned out to be a small bump in the road on their way to a 25-15, 20-25, 25-18 and 25-7 victory over the Patriots.
Penn State Harrisburg had an early 4-1 advantage erased by Valley Forge when the visitors used a short run to take a 6-4 lead. Following a Patriot timeout, the blue and white used two blocks from Michelle Pellechia (Allentown, Pa. / Catasauqua) to get things rolling and retook the lead, eventually stretching it to 17-11. A pair of beautiful kills by Chidere Igwe (West Orange, N.J. / West Orange) made it 20-11 and a Courtney Dimmig (Elizabethtown, Pa. / Elizabethtown) block following a Monica Bishop (Mechanicsburg, Pa. / Mechanicsburg) kill was good enough to seal the first set for the Lions.
The ladies again jumped out to an early lead in set two but Valley Forge went on a 7-0 run to gain the advantage shortly thereafter. Down by as many as eight points, the Lions made a late run. A Kiara Carter (Bronx, N.Y. / Milton Hershey) block and point cut the deficit to 22-15 and sparked a mini-run. But unfortunately it wasn't enough. Even two more pretty-looking kills from Igwe and Olivia Umoren (Quincy, Mass. / North Quincy) couldn't keep the Patriots from taking the second set.
The third set was also close, this time with the visitors jumping out to an early 5-3 advantage. Penn State Harrisburg eventually claimed the lead 9-8 on an Igwe kill off a perfectly-placed Katie Shek (Old Bridge, N.J. / Old Bridge) assist. Back-to-back kills by Bishop and Umoren made it 12-10 and a Patriot service error stretched it to 17-13. The blue and white finished off the set thanks to consecutive service aces by Beth Findley (New Providence, Pa. / Solanco).
The fourth set was all Penn State Harrisburg. The Lions racked up a 9-1 advantage during Miranda Jumper's (Lebanon, Pa. / Lebanon) service period and a block by Carter ballooned the lead to 17-3. A Umoren kill of a Shek assist and Erin Goodyear's (Boiling Springs, Pa. / Boiling Springs) dig over the net were enough to secure the set and match for the blue and white.
Igwe was impressive offensively against Valley Forge, racking up ten kills. Umoren was also strong, recording seven of her own.
Melissa Ganz (Weston, Fl. / Cypress Bay) dug out seven balls while Jumper and Dimmig chipped in with six and five digs, respectively.
But it was Findley who had the all-around performance of the match. The junior setter did her job racking up ten assists but she also recorded four kills and match-high marks of six service aces and 15 digs.
Notre Dame of Maryland downed the Patriots in the second match of the afternoon in straight sets. In the day's final contest, Penn State Harrisburg and the Gators played to see who would finish the day undefeated. In a very evenly matched outing, the blue and white took down Notre Dame in three sets 25-15, 28-26 and 25-21.
Igwe made a statement with a big kill to open the first set. The Lions led 13-7 at one point but the Gators used a mini-run to cut it to 13-12 and force Penn State Harrisburg to call a timeout. Coming out of the break, the set ended up tied at 14 apiece. From there, the blue and white went on an 11-1 run, most of which came during a Jumper service period, to end the game.
Set number two was even more competitive. The opening minutes were very close but Penn State Harrisburg was able to gain some breathing room by taking a 19-14 lead following a Carter kill. But Notre Dame refused to go away and tied the game at 22 apiece. The Lions ended up having three possible chances to clinch the set and it took them three tries to finish off the Gators.
The final set was close once more. The visitors held a 10-7 lead when the Lions burned another timeout. From there, Penn State Harrisburg methodically worked its way back and eventually tied it up at 17. The ladies went on a 4-0 run and were able to hold on from there and pick up the third blue and white victory of the season.
Igwe and Umoren led the team in kills with six. Jumper followed them with five of her own. The senior also added three service aces. Goodyear was stout defensively against the Gators, digging out a match-high 18 balls. Findley had another stellar outing, racking up ten assists and nine digs.
"Early on we made some unforced errors," said Penn State Harrisburg Head Coach Bob Creason about his team's first win of the day. "We played a lot smoother as the match went on."
He was very pleased with the fact that his girls took care of business and completed the sweep on their home court.
"That's the way it's supposed to be."
The Lions are now riding a three-game winning streak. They'll have a chance to extend that number when they take travel to Mt. Aloysius for a primetime matchup against the Mounties on Wednesday, Sep. 19.