Lady Lions Battle for 3-2 Win at Franciscan

Photo: Penn State Altoona sophomore outside hitter Lauren Diller had 19 kills, 10 digs, and three total blocks in her team's win at Franciscan University on Wednesday.
Photo: Penn State Altoona sophomore outside hitter Lauren Diller had 19 kills, 10 digs, and three total blocks in her team's win at Franciscan University on Wednesday.

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio - Penn State Altoona women's volleyball won its third straight five-set match on Wednesday night to remain undefeated in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, defeating league opponent Franciscan University 3-2 at the Kuzma Court.

Franciscan (3-10, 2-1 AMCC) won the opening set 25-22, but Penn State Altoona (5-8, 3-0 AMCC) responded with a 25-18 victory in the second set. The Lady Barons struck back for a 25-20 win in the third, and the Lady Lions forced a fifth set when they took the fourth set 26-24. Penn State Altoona prevailed 15-10 in the fifth to win the match.

Lauren Diller (Chambersburg, PA/Chambersburg) led all players with 19 kills to go along with 10 digs, two block assists, and one solo block. Kelsey Bristol (Troy, PA/Troy) put up 14 kills and a team-high 14 digs. Josie Stovall (Palmyra, PA/Palmyra) added 10 kills, and Velanna Skripek (Moshannon, PA/Bald Eagle) contributed eight kills and one solo block.

Lauren Moran (Johnstown, PA/Westmont Hilltop) led the Lady Lions with 28 assists while also posting 10 digs. Emily Bryan (Waynesboro, PA/Waynesboro) added 16 assists, six digs, and a team-best three service aces.

Nicole Kiser (Altoona, PA/Bishop Guilfoyle) finished with 12 digs.

A back-and-forth first set was indicative of things to come on Wednesday night, with each team capitalizing on momentum swings. Stovall's kill early in the set helped Penn State Altoona get out to a 10-5 lead, but Franciscan used a pair of four-point runs to help overcome its deficit and jump ahead 15-13. Later, the Lady Barons scored four of the final five points to win the opening stanza.

But Penn State Altoona used a big run early in the second set to help tie the match 1-1. The Lady Lions established a 10-2 advantage in the second, getting four kills and an ace from Skripek during that span. Penn State Altoona closed out the set with an ace from Bristol, two kills by Stovall, and another kill from Diller.

Franciscan bounced back to take the third set, grabbing a lead early and maintaining it throughout. Penn State Altoona made a late push to tie the score, getting kills from Stovall and Diller and a block by Skripek to narrow the home team's lead to 22-19. But kills from Franciscan's Maddie Raffa and Monica Rigaud, along with a ball handling error, sunk the Lady Lions' comeback hopes in the set.

Penn State Altoona overcame an early deficit in the fourth set with a big rally, winning the set to stay alive in the match. Franciscan took a 12-5 lead after kills from Sydney Riley and Meghan Bayer. But the Lady Lions exploded for a 15-3 run to turn the tables and seize a 20-15 advantage. Later, after Franciscan battled back to grab a 24-23 lead, Penn State Altoona forced a fifth set by scoring three consecutive points.

In the fifth set, the Lady Lions took control midway through and never looked back. Tied 4-4 after Bayer's kill, Penn State Altoona picked up two points on Franciscan attack errors. After Maria Ciola's kill for the Lady Barons, Penn State Altoona reeled off three more points on Stovall's kill, an attack error, and a bad set. After two more Ciola kills brought Franciscan to within two points, 10-8, of the Lady Lions' lead, Penn State Altoona scored five of the next seven points to clinch the match.

Lady Lions volleyball returns to Altoona for a four-match homestand, beginning this Friday, September 29, when Penn State Altoona will host non-conference opponent Hollins University for a 7:00 p.m. match in the Adler Arena.