Penn College Women Finish Second in Volleyball
Going into Sunday's conference finals, Bambi Hawkins, Pennsylvania College of Technology women's volleyball coach, was concerned that Penn State Fayette's strength of schedule in the highly competitive Western Division would work to its advantage. In the end, that may have been the difference in the outcome.
"We took second place behind a very strong PSU-Fayette team," Hawkins said. "It was great to play with them for a while, and actually take a solid game off of them, but, in the end, their season of consistently playing challenging teams was obvious."
The Wildcats, who finish 20-3 overall, opened the double-elimination season-ending tournament at University Park with a 30-25, 30-18 win over Penn State Mont Alto. They then lost to Penn State Fayette, 18-30, 26-30, before eliminating Penn State Mont Alto, 30-18, 30-27. In its final match against Fayette, Penn College won the first game, 30-21, before dropping the next two, 23-30, 10-15. It was Penn College's second consecutive second-place finish in the PSUAC.
"Highlights for our team were the ever-amazing defensive play of Maria Bova (Bethlehem), who played every game through the entire four matches," Hawkins said.
"During the third-round match against Mont Alto, we were able to give all 15 players on our team the chance to play in a Final Four match," the coach continued, noting that Melani Grady (Youngsville) and Michelle McNett (Canton) were both nearly perfect in their sets for the day.
"The one game we took off Fayette was the first time we really showed how we could truly play this year," Hawkins said.
The day marked the last matches for six Penn College players: Maria McNett (Canton), Grady, Courtney Eisenhofer (Leesport) and Liz Mast (Morgantown) have all been with the team four years, while Johncie Clark (Imler) and Janell Thompson (Westfield) have been strong middles for two years.
"We will be missing a lot of height next year, but look forward to the challenge of building something great with the base that still remains," Hawkins said.
According to the coach, Bova, nicknamed "The Little Digger" by one of the other players' parents, will return, along with Sara Gamble (Ulysses) and Karla Neiman (New Oxford), who also are experienced players with strong skills.
"Our freshmen got a taste of what it is like to be in the championships, so I am hoping that will make them hungry for more next year," Hawkins added.
(Photos by Jerry W. McNett, General Services horticulturist - and father of team members Maria and Michelle.)