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Men’s Volleyball Team Exceeds Expectations at National Tourney

“To play Division I-AA teams and end up where we did among the top 20 Division I-AA club teams is fantastic. I don’t think anybody looked for us to go anywhere,” Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s volleyball coach Wes Strayer said Saturday after his team was eliminated from the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation Championships.

Competing in Louisville, Ky. with 38 other teams in the division, theWildcats lost their opener Thursday to defending champ College ofDuPage, 17-25, 19-25, and then fell to Ohio University, 14-25, 25-15,14-16, before beating Towson (Md.) University, 25-12, 25-20. In their pool-play finale Friday morning, the Wildcats edged the University of Rhode Island, 25-23, 25-23.

Penn College then moved into the Silver Division eliminations, where it lost to Cornell (N.Y.) University late Friday afternoon, 21-25, 25-14,10-15. Saturday morning, it bounced back with a 26-24, 25-14 win over North Dakota State University before being eliminated in the afternoon quarterfinals by the University of Kentucky, 23-25, 26-28. Kentucky went on to finish second in the Silver Division to Iowa State. Playing in the Gold Division, DuPage successfully defended its overall championship.

During the three-day event, the Wildcats went 3-4. They closed out their season 18-5 overall, including a third-place finish in the Middle Atlantic Club Volleyball Conference, where they posted an 11-0regular-season mark.

“It was a great experience for them. They’ve never seen anything likethis before, and, to be honest, I’ve never played at anything like this,” said Strayer, in his seventh season as coach.

“The intensity picked up every day. … It’s a totally different mind-set here. … For the first time of going to a national tournament ofany kind, and moving up one division (the MACVC is a Division II conference) I’m extremely happy. I’m also disappointed. We could have played better and gone a lot further,” the coach continued.

Although one of his taller teams, Strayer said among the competition it faced at nationals, Penn College had one of the smaller squads onthe court.

“We have a 6-foot-8 and a 6-4 middle, where most of the teams we were playing had 6-9 and 6-8 middles. I put 5-9 hitters on the outside andother teams had outside hitters who were 6-4, 6-5 and 6-6,” he said.

Key Penn College players were middle hitters Andy Epley (New Oxford) and Adam Smith (Duncannon), setter Cody Goss (State College) and outside hitters Bill West (Wyomissing) and James Fortenberry (Lemoyne). Phil Reist (Washington) and Ryan Haines (Lancaster) worked at libero. Top defensive players were Jared Palko (Waymart), Shawn Wesche (Angelica, N.Y.) and Haines.

Looking ahead to next season, Strayer said his players are “excited.”

“They understand what they need to work on and where they can go and what they need to do to get there,” he added.

While fun for all of his players, Strayer said it was even more so and also a little scary for sophomore Dylan Lackey, of Mountville, who sang the national anthem before the start of two matches on Saturday,including one of the championship games.

Penn College went 3-1 on the week, beating Penn State Wilkes-Barre, 8-4 and 16-1, and splitting with Penn State Fayette, winning 7-3 and losing 10-7. Tom Hughes of Easton had the hot bat as he went 3 for 5 with two home runs and four RBIs against Wilkes-Barre and was 2 for 4 with another RBI in the win over Fayette. Matt King (Southampton) homered in the loss to Fayette. Overall, the Wildcats are 5-4. They are 3-1 in Penn State University Athletic Conference action. In the most recent United States Collegiate Athletic Association poll, Penn College was tied for 11th.

The Wildcats evened their overall record at 3-3 by sweeping the Elmira (N.Y.) College Jayvee team, 11-0 and 10-2. Leading Penn College hitters were Samantha Mills (Harrisburg) and Amber Claar (Claysburg).

Sophomore guard Leroy Joiner (Williamsport) was named to the men’s PSUAC All-Conference team. In 27 games, Joiner led the team in scoring with 527 points and now has 1,019 points for his career. Penn College went 14-14 overall and finished second in the conference. For the Penn College women, freshman guard Kierstin Steer (South Williamsport) was a conference Honorable Mention selection. Steer topped the Lady Wildcats in scoring with 301 points as they posted a 9-15 record and reached the PSUAC quarterfinals.

Recent Results/Upcoming Games
Overall record: 5-4
PSUAC record: 3-1
Thursday, April 1 at Penn State Wilkes-Barre (2), W, 8-4; W, 16-1 Friday, April 2 host Penn State Fayette at Bowman Field (2), W, 7-3; L, 10-7 Tuesday, April 6 host Penn State Beaver at Bowman Field (2), 2 p.m. Saturday, April 10 at Penn State Greater Allegheny (2), 2 p.m.

Overall record: 3-3
PSUAC record: 0-0
Friday, April 2 host Elmira (N.Y.) College Jayvees at Elm Park (2), W, 11-0; W, 10-2 Tuesday, April 6 at Penn State Schuylkill (2), 2 p.m. Thursday, April 8 at Susquehanna University (2), 3 p.m. Saturday, April 10 at Penn State Greater Allegheny (2), 2 p.m. Sunday, April 11 at Penn State New Kensington (2), noon

Saturday-Sunday, April 17-18 UConn Fun Shoot at University of Connecticut

Men’s Club Volleyball
Final overall record: 18-5
Thursday-Saturday, April 1-3 at National Collegiate Volleyball Federation Championships in Louisville, Ky., vs. DuPage, L, 17-25, 19-25; vs. Ohio University, L, 14-25, 25-15, 14-16; vs. Towson University, W, 25-22, 25-20; vs. University of Rhode Island, W, 25-23, 25-23; vs. Cornell University, L, 21-25, 25-14, 10-15; vs. North Dakota State University, W, 26-24, 25-14; vs. Kentucky, L, 23-25, 26-28

(Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college’s Athletics Web site. For more information on the PSUAC, visit on the Web; more about the USCAA also is available online.)

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