After dropping their PSUAC opener Tuesday night at York. the Penn State Hazleton Nittany Lions returned to the Thomas M. Cacesse Gymnasium for their first match since the 2019 season by hosting Penn State Wilkes-Barre Friday evening.
Utilizing strong service games from freshman Kayla Nothstein (Palmerton, PA/Carbon Career & Technical Institute) and Aliana Roman (Harrisburg, PA/Central Dauphin East HS), the home team (1-5, 1-1) only trailed for a few points early in the first and third sets to Wilkes-Barre (0-2) in the 3-0 (25-8, 25-3, 25-11) affair.
With the score tied at 3 apiece in the first set, Nothstein stepped to the service line and reeled off 11 straight points from the serve giving Hazleton an early 14-3 lead. After trading points, the home Lions put the game away with kills and service points from Roman and first-year transfer Natasha Feliciano (Cainovas, PR/Puerto Rico-US Territorial HS)with the set ending at 25-8.
The second set opened with Roman stepping to line and running of 17 straight points to stake the home Lions their largest lead of the night 17-0. Wilkes-Barre fought for the next point but then Feliciano ran off 5 straight points with four being aces. Hazleton then closed out the second set by a 25-3 score.
Wilkes-Barre would not go away quietly keeping the third set close at the onset taking a 9-8 lead. After a powerful kill by Nothstein, first year player Savannah Baurer (San Jose, CA/Santa Theresa HS) served up two aces and added a third service point to give Hazleton a 13-8 lead. The teams once again traded points and from that point on, the local Lions never looked back. Leading 15-11, Roman once again stepped up to serve and once again proved to be too much for Wilkes-Barre. Six aces combined with strong team play put both the set and the match away with a final score of 25-11.
Roman finished with 15 aces on the night while Nothstein and Feliciano both had 6 each. Nothstein registered 8 kills in the game while Feliciano also contributed five digs on the evening.
The young Hazleton squad played in front of a very raucous and energetic student body who came out to support them in their home opener. They look to continue their winning ways in the 2021 campaign when they host to Penn State Scranton Wednesday night. First serve is set for 7:00 PM.