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Penn College Women Seek Return to Top in Volleyball

Two years ago, the Pennsylvania College of Technology women’s volleyball team won a conference championship. Last year, it reached the championship game, but lost in the finals. On Sunday, it is seeking to return to the top.

The Wildcats enter action at Rec Hall on Penn State’s main campus in University Park as the top seed. They take an 18-1 overall record into the championships and are 17-0 in Penn State University Athletic Conference matches, where they captured the North Division.

Sunday’s double-elimination tournament features the top seeds from three PSUAC divisions and a wild-card entry. In 10 a.m. openers, Penn College plays Penn State Mont Alto, the wild card, while Penn State Fayette plays Penn State York. Other matches, each best-of-three, are scheduled for 12:15 p.m., 1:30 and 3 p.m.

During the regular season, the Wildcats took two games off both Penn State Mont Alto and Penn State Fayette. They did not play Penn State York.

Penn College coach Bambi Hawkins is counting on the experience of her players and their conditioning to help overcome what she considered a weak schedule during the regular season.

“They really haven’t been tested enough this season. I think they’re lacking confidence in that they really haven’t played consistently against better teams,” Hawkins said. “I get so frustrated when we play teams that get beat by everybody.”

Despite that, Hawkins said of her girls, “They don’t realize how good they are. (But) they don’t want to hear it from me, they want to play the teams and find out for sure.”

“We’re looking at making sure we have the conditioning. I think that was the difference last year, our girls kind of petered out. They got beat up last year a lot, there were just a lot of injuries last year and, this year, we’ve been fortunate not to have so many injuries. We’ve been working on a lot of conditioning, so they’ll have that stamina in the end,” Hawkins said.

What was to have been a four-team divisional playoff last weekend ended up being a two-team event after the others dropped out. Hawkins would have liked to have had her team get more work in, but, because it didn’t, she scheduled workouts against the Lycoming College women’s squad this week and the Penn College men’s team.

Key players on whom the Wildcats will count Sunday are setter Melani Grady (Youngsville), outside hitter Liz Mast (Morgantown), libero Maria Bova (Bethlehem), middle hitter Courtney Eisenhofer (Leesport) and outside hitter Maria McNett (Canton).

“We’re looking forward to some great volleyball; challenging, but yet fun. We love the challenge and we love to play good volleyball,” Hawkins added.

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