Hazleton, Pa. - Hazleton fell in a closely contested matchup against Lehigh Valley in the Dr. Thomas M. Cacesse Gymnasium by the score of three sets to one. The Lions split the first two sets of the match before Lehigh Valley nabbed the final two frames. Overall, Hazleton trailed Lehigh Valley by just six points overall throughout the night but came up just short of flipping the match.
Hazleton junior Abby Bessoir (Dunore, Pa.) totaled a season high 20 kills over the four set affair, only to be outdone by Lehigh Valley's Ebony Sanders who finished with a game high 29 kills. Sanders and Lehigh Valley had their most comfortable set victory as the match began. Hazleton trailed 16-15 midway through the set until an eight point run put the set out of reach.
All of the next three sets would come down to the wire. The Lions went on to build a five point cushion in the second frame but Lehigh Valley and Hazleton would go back and forth down the stretch. Three ties would ensue in the final stages of the set until an error by Sanders and a kill by senior Mekenzie Wolfe (Grove City, Pa.) evened up the match with a 25-23 win for Hazleton. Set three was no different although this time Lehigh Valley squeaked out the win to break the stalemate. With the set tied at 19, three kills by Ebony Sanders led Lehigh Valley on a 6-2 run to give them a 25-21 win and 2-1 advantage in the match.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Lehigh Valley continued that momentum in the final set. The visitors opened up a 8-0 to start frame. Despite the deficit, Hazleton clawed back into contention with a 6-1 run of their own that included a pair of service aces by freshman Payton Fogarty Kinnelon, Nj.). Hazleton would come all the way back to knot the score at 16 after a pair of kills by Bessoir and kept pace with Lehigh Valley all the way to the finish. Bessoir added a pair of late kills to tie the game at 25 but Lehigh Valley came through in the end with consecutive kills by Sanders and Bridget Jones to win 27-25 and three sets to one in the match.
Bessoir's 20 kills stole the show in the loss aided by sophomore Alessandra Banta (Coatesville, Pa.) who finished the night with 34 assists and 15 digs. Fogarty added eight kills of her own while freshman Caitlyn Williams (Kingsley, Pa.) led the defensive effort with 24 digs.
Next up: Hazleton remains in the hunt for a postseason berth but will need to win down the stretch to control their own destiny. Hazleton continues PSUAC play on Friday, October 11 when the squad travels to Penn State York for a 7:00 p.m. matchup