Penn College Men Second in Volleyball Championship

Published 04.10.2006


Penn College went 5-1 in the Middle Atlantic Collegiate Volleyball Club League championships Saturday, losing only to season-long nemesis Messiah in three games in the championship match.

During pool play, the Wildcats beat host Haverford, 25-16, 25-19; Kutztown, 27-25, 25-15; and Penn State Abington, 25-16, 25-17. That put them into the single-elimination portion of the event as the Pool B winner.

"We had a couple of tough ones. Kutztown was up for us. It came out ready to play. It has some good players, but they just weren't quite good enough," commented Penn College coach Wes Strayer.

Facing Lock Haven, which finished second in Pool A, in the quarterfinal, Penn College prevailed, 25-22, 25-17. The Wildcats then defeated Villanova, the Pool C champ, in the semifinals, 27-25, 21-25, 15-12.

"Lock Haven played extremely well all day. It beat Messiah one game," Strayer said. Commenting on Villanova, he continued, "It had a good team. It came in ranked third or fourth, but we played real lackadaisical (against it). I think it was a matter of us never having played Villanova before and a hint of us looking past them to Messiah in the finals."

Last week, as his team was preparing for the tournament, Strayer said he expected to meet Messiah in the finale. His prediction proved correct.

Penn College won the first game against Pool A winner Messiah, 25-21. It then dropped the second 25-9 before falling 17-15 in the decisive third game.

"We were on fire (in the first game)," Strayer said. "The kids won, but I could not settle them down. They counted their chickens before they were hatched. ... The second game was just as bad as it looks," the coach continued.

Strayer called the third game the best of the day, pointing out that it went back and forth all the way. Messiah led 3-0 before Penn College went up 5-4 and 7-5. Messiah battled back to lead 8-7 and eventually the Wildcats had game point, 14-13, but let it slip away when Messiah made a couple of outstanding plays to turn things around and win.

"It was an outstanding match. It just went the wrong way," Strayer said.

"We had a lot of good praise down there. Going into the season, nobody wanted to play us, it was like, 'Who is Penn College?' 'Where are they from?' 'They can't be any good.' But by the time we left, we had three or four colleges who want to scrimmage us. It was very nice," he said.

At the end of the day, besides finishing second and making a name for the college in yet another intercollegiate sport, three Wildcat players juniors Kyle Flook of Cedar Cliff and Cody Umberger of Lower Dauphin and sophomore Bill Hayes of Conneaut Valley were named to the all-tournament team.

Penn College, now 20-5 overall, still has matches against Lehigh Carbon and Harrisburg Area Community College on April 17 before it wraps up its season in the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference championships April 22.