Hazleton, Pa. - The Lady Lions successfully defended their home court Wednesday night, advancing to the semifinals of the Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs with a 3-0 victory over Penn State Schuylkill. There were very few gimmies on Wednesday night as Schuylkill gave the Lady Lions all they could handle on more than one occasion. After a relatively clean set one win, Hazleton would have to rally from behind in the final two frames to capture the postseason win by scores of 25-17, 25-19 and 25-23.
After the first set, it was Schuylkill's defense that would keep them in contention with Hazleton. The Lady Lions trailed the visitors 16-12 midway through set number two until a pair of five point runs led by sophomore Samaya Hornsby (Richmond, Ca.) and senior Hailey Trasacco (Hamden, Ct.) helped Hazleton surge past Schuylkill. The Lady Lions would win 13 of the final 16 points in the set, capped by a pair kills by junior Mekenzie Wolfe (Grove City, Pa.) to pull ahead two sets to none.
Facing elimination, there was zero quit from the visitors where many teams may have folded. Schuylkill racked up eight kills in the early stages of the third frame, pulling ahead of Hazleton by 19-11 margin. Just when it looked like Schuylkill might extend the match, Hazleton turned up the heat. A service ace from Trasacco and clutch block by senior Mariah Curry (Pottsville, Pa.) sparked a 7-0 run by Hazleton that all but erased the deficit. Schuylkill would go back up by four points, leading 23-19 but Hazleton had one last rally in them. Following a side out, sophomore Chelsey Dominguz (Bronx, Ny.) took the serve and and never relinquished it. A pair of kills from Wolfe helped square the match and an ace by Dominguez gave the Lady Lions their first lead since the very first point of the set. Hazleton would capitalize on their first match point with a hard hit from Hornsby, putting an exclamation point on the come from behind effort.
Six Lady Lions registered multiple kills on the night led by Mekenzie Wolfe with six put-aways and Chelsey Dominguez with five kills and 13 digs. Sophomore Damaris Ayala (Beriwick, Pa.) dished out a team-high nine assists while senior Lauren Nietz (Coaldale, Pa.) led defensively with 18 digs, adding three kills and a service ace in the winning effort.
Next up: A major victory for the Lady Lions inches the squad closer to the ultimate goal. Hazleton will continue it's playoff run with an appearance in the PSUAC semi-finals. The Lady Lions will face the top-seeded western opponent, Penn State Fayette on Monday, October 29 at 5:00 p.m. at Rec Hall in State College, Pa.