MIDDLETOWN, Pa. - The Penn State Harrisburg women's volleyball team started the year by losing its first seven matches. Since then, the blue and white have righted the ship and won five of the squad's last eight matches. The Lions latest win came in front of their hometown faithful at the Capital Union Building on Tuesday, Sep. 25. The ladies downed Bryn Athyn 3-1.
A back-and-forth opening volley won by the opposing Lions was evidence that this contest would be a competitive one. With her team trailing 8-5 early, senior captain Miranda Jumper (Lebanon, Pa. / Lebanon) used a kill to turn the tide in her team's favor. Bryn Athyn burned a timeout with Penn State Harrisburg leading 17-13 but the blue and white were forced to call one when the visitors regained the lead at 21-19. A Jumper service ace tied it at 22 and an Olivia Umoren (Quincy, Mass. / North Quincy) kill clinched a 25-23 first set win for the home team.
Penn State Harrisburg was fast out of the gate in the second set, jumping out to an 8-1 lead. The Lions recorded five-straight points during Michelle Pellechia's (Allentown, Pa. / Catasauqua) service period stretched the advantage to 17-7 and forced Bryn Athyn to use another timeout. One of the most thrilling plays of the night came when freshman Melissa Ganz (Weston, Fl. / Cypress Bay) dug out what looked like a sure point for the visitors before setter Beth Findley (New Providence, Pa. / Solanco) passed it to Umoren who sent the ball over the net for the blue and white's 22nd point. A Bryn Athyn service error gave Penn State Harrisburg a 25-14 second set victory.
The visitors picked up a 25-16 win in the third set thanks to some consistent play throughout the stanza. Bryn Athyn led 6-2 early and held its advantage at 16-12. The opposing Lions used a 9-4 run to finish off the blue and white and get themselves back into the match.
Penn State Harrisburg trailed again in the fourth set before kills by Chidere Igwe and Umoren breathed life back into the home team. Bryn Athyn fought back and took a 10-6 lead but another outstanding service period by Pellechia regained the advantage for the Lions at 14-10. The visitors would tie it up at 16 but two blocks, one by Umoren and one by Pellechia and Kiara Carter (Bronx, N.Y. / Milton Hershey), gave the blue and white the lead for the final time en route to a 25-21 fourth and deciding set victory.
Igwe and Umoren led the way offensively, recording seven and six kills respectively. Findley recorded a team-high 12 assists while Katie Shek (Old Bridge, N.J. / Old Bridge) chipped-in with eight. On the defensive side of things, Ganz dug out the most balls with 13. Findley and Shek pitched-in with eight and seven digs, respectively.
Penn State Harrisburg will look to keep its recent hot-streak going when the Lions travel to Rosemont for a non-conference match on Thursday, Sep. 27 before heading to Washington D.C. to take part in the team's second North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) crossover event of the year next weekend.