UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 3 seed Penn State Beaver made sure that no. 1 Penn State Fayette had to work for their title on Tuesday night. Fayette needed a fifth set rally to capture their 11th PSUAC Volleyball Championship since 2005 and cement their spot in the USCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship next week, where they'll seek their first ever national trophy.
It was a back-and-forth night for the finalists, and a tale of three distinct segments of match. Fayette won the first two sets (25-17, 25-21) and looked to be cruising towards a sweep heading into the third set. But Beaver dominated sets three (25-16) and four (25-15) to square the match and continued that momentum into the fifth set. Beaver managed to stretch it to a 9-5 lead in the deciding set, but a 3-0 run by Fayette cut their deficit to one. Two straight points from Beaver extended their lead back to three at 11-8, but a 5-0 run from Fayette made it 13-11. Beaver tied it with a kill and a Fayette attack error, then the teams traded points to make it 14-14. After serving, Beaver made an attack error to create match point, which was followed up by a kill from Fayette's Madison Knight to give the Lions a 16-14 victory.
Both teams played strong defense, as neither team hit above .130 overall. Beaver managed 115 digs on the night, led by Alexis Albrecht with 26. Teammate Emma Dellinger pitched in 23 while Fayette's All-Conference libero Chanel Porter managed 22 of her team's 94 digs.
Fayette also had 17 blocks over the five sets, including eight solo blocks from All-Conference and West Co-Player of the Year Siteri Tale. Tale also led Fayette with 18 kills and kicked in 18 digs, while Kyonte Martin and Morgan Pytlak each reached double digit kills for the champs. Martin finished with 15, while Pytlak contributed 10 kills for the cause. West Newcomer of the Year Jadyn Barnish dished out most of those attacks, ending the night with 46 assists.
Beaver was led by Stephanie Stadjuhar, who finished with a match-high 19 kills. All-Conference performer Brooke Tomasko pitched in 13, while Emily Keener added 44 assists.
Fayette will now travel to Virginia Beach, Va. to participate in the first ever USCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship, held in the Virginia Beach Field House, part of the Virginia Beach Sports Plex. In previous years there was only one volleyball championship tournament in the national association, but growth led to a split into divisions. The tournament kicks off with pool play on Thursday, Nov. 8 and Friday, Nov. 9. Semifinals begin Friday night, with the championship and third place games being contested on Saturday, Nov. 10.