Late rallies come up short against Lehigh Valley

Ameera Ensley tips the ball past defenders.
Ameera Ensley tips the ball past defenders.

Hazleton, Pa. - The Hazleton NIttany Lions fell to Penn State Lehigh Valley on Friday night in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium, dropping three straight sets to the visitors and falling to a conference record of 1-5 on the season.

For the second consecutive night, Hazleton was slow to get going in the first two sets of the match. The Lions faced deficits of 15 points in set one and fell behind by a 10 point margin in set two before rallying with some offense but in both cases, Hazleton would be closed out by Lehigh Valley by scores of 25-16. Trailing two sets to none, Hazleton came alive in the third frame of the night. The Lions hit positive numbers in the hitting percentage for the first time all night, registering eight kills in the set including three kills from Aliana Roman (Harrisburg, Pa.). Hazleton kept Lehigh Valley from running away early and battled to a stalemate midway through the final set. Hazleton had four multi-point runs late in the action and back to back kills by Roman and Savannah Bauer (San Jose, Ca.) helped give the Lions a 22-21 advantage but Hazleton would fail to convert any additional offense to force a fourth set. Lehigh Valley went on to win four of the next five points and close out the match 25-23. 

The Nittany Lions fell victim to the hard-hitting Lehigh Valley squad who registered 35 kills and 19 service aces on the evening. Hazleton got a solid output from Kayla Nothstein (Palmerton, Pa.) who totaled nine kills and just three hitting errors on the night but the rest of the squad combined for just seven kills in the loss. Alessandra Banta (Coatesville, Pa.) led the team with 12 assists on Friday night, with Caitlyn Williams (Brooklyn, Pa.) adding eight digs to lead the defensive effort. 

Next up: The Lions will look to bounce back on Sunday when Hazleton hosts Penn State York in the two team's second meeting of the year. First serve slated for 1:00 p.m. at the Hazleton campus on Sunday, October 3.