Hazleton, Pa. - The Nittany Lions were outmatched on Wednesday night as Hazleton dropped three straight sets to Penn State Scranton in the Lion's third conference bout of the season.
Playing without setter Alessandra Banta (Coatesville, Pa.), Hazleton struggled out of the gates as Scranton pulled ahead early on a 6-0 run led by Alison Marshman who served for three of her five aces on the night in the opening set. Hazleton rallied for five of the next 11 points in the frame but a 10-0 run by the visitors would put Hazleton down one set to none with the final score coming in at 25-6 in favor of Scranton.
Banta would return to the Hazleton lineup in set two and three and with her experience on the court, the Lions battled Scranton for the next two sets. Banta served a pair of aces in the early phases of set two and Hazleton claimed a three point advantage midway through the second until Scranton reeled off six straight points to reclaim the lead. Scranton would get kills from four different players throughout the remainder of set two while Hazleton would surrender seven point on hitting errors to aid the visitors in a 25-18 win and a two set advantage.
Set three was a back and forth affair with both sides offering up substantial scoring runs. Scranton would push ahead midway through the deciding frame and eventually push their lead to 16-11 before Hazleton responded with a 9-2 run of their own. Hazleton got a pair of kills from libero Caitlyn Williams (Brooklyn, Pa.) and Kayla Nothstein (Palmerton, Pa.) to help Hazleton build a slim lead down the stretch but unfortunately for the Lions, Hazleton failed to convert enough opportunities to extend the match. With the score close at 22-21 in favor of Scranton, the Lions would get three points via Scranton errors to force extra play in the third set but a costly service error by Hazleton with the score tied at 24 led to a game ending kill by Scranton's Sheylla Romero to seal up the three set sweep.
It was valiant late effort by the Hazleton Nittany Lions but none the less resulting in Hazleton's six loss of the season. Hazleton was led by Nothstein who totaled eight kills on Wednesday. Ally Banta added six assists and three aces in her two sets of action while Natasha Feliciano (Cainovas, PR.) added one kill and six assists in the losing effort.
Next up: Hazleton returns to the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium on Friday night when the Lions host Penn State Schuylkill in another round of PSUAC action. First serve set for 7:00 p.m.