West Chester University fell just short in its upset bid of top-seeded Lock Haven University, dropping a 3-2 decision in sets in the quarterfinal round of the 2010 PSAC Women’s Volleyball Tournament. Fourth-seeded West Chester was bounced out of the postseason in the quarterfinals for the sixth straight year while Lock Haven (20-9) advances to the PSAC semifinals where the Lady Eagles will take on Edinboro.
The Lady Rams were able to win the opening set, 26-24. Lock Haven then rebounded with a pair of victories in the next two sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-17.
“At Lock Haven our team expected nothing less than a great match. We came ready to play and took the first game. After losing the next two we were not prepared to have our season end that easily,” Michelle Powers said.
WCU forced the fifth and deciding set with a 25-22 win in the fourth game.
To nobody’s surprise, the Golden Rams gave the Lady Eagles all they could handle. Lock Haven was able to clinch the match by a score of 15-13 in the final set that ended West Chester’s season.
Lock Haven jumped out to a 9-5 lead in the fifth set, before the Golden Rams rallied to pull within striking distance thanks to a small 5-1 late run. Junior setter Helen Fitzpatrick sparked the rally by serving out four straight points.
“In the fifth game Lock Haven started off with a big lead and I’m sure everyone in the stands thought it was game over for us. However, we came back in the end making it 14-13 Lock Haven. Unfortunately the point didn’t go our way,” Powers said.
Lexi Kegerise led West Chester with 16 kills. Powers added nine kills and a pair of blocks. Lisa Campbell recorded 17 digs. Fitzpatrick posted seven digs to go along with 38 assists.
Leading the way for the Lady Eagles was Xuan Gao and Haley Gribler, who had 21 and 16 kills respectively. WCU had a hard time limiting their offensive chances. Erin Walsh had a big match defensively for LHU and recorded 23 digs.
LHU setter Alexa Garrity paced the offense with 43 assists. Baily Farthing added seven kills in the win over West Chester. Kutztown and Clarion will meet in Friday’s other semifinal match.
WCU showed up in Lock Haven and gave a complete game effort. They were defeated by the smallest of margins, but it was not due to a lack of hustle.
“I’m very proud of my team to come back from such a large point deficit,” Powers said.
Four Lady Rams played their last match in the purple and gold for West Chester. Senior’s Kyra Yost, Nora Jingeleski, Ashley Focht and Powers will all be graduating in the spring. All four players were a part of head coach Kassie Bellaver’s first recruiting class.
“The seniors seemed pleased with the effort from the team so it was not difficult to leave the gym with our heads held high because we knew that we gave it our best shot,” Bellaver said.
Yost compiled 68 digs in her final year while Jingeleski registered 187 digs of her own in 2010. Focht had 39 kills and 38 digs and Powers had 319 kills and 93 digs this season.
“As far as my career at West Chester, I couldn’t have asked for more. I never expected to be the player I am now and my teammates over the past four years played a major role in my success,” said Powers.
Overall the Lady Rams as a team put together 1,256 kills, and averaged 10.9 kills per set. WCU had 1,796 digs and averaged 15.6 digs per set to go along with 87 solo blocks.
Coming into the 2010 season, the West Chester volleyball squad was picked in a preseason coaches’ poll to finish second in the PSAC East. While they did manage to make the playoffs as the fourth seed, Kutztown captured the second seed and Shippensburg finished with the third seed.
“Championship or no championship this was one of the best teams I’ve played on in my four years at WCU. Not only did we have a lot of talent, the personalities on the team were fantastic and so much fun to be around,” Powers said.
WCU won 23 games this season but struggled in conference play with an 8-11 record. WCU was swept in conference play by both Lock Haven and Shippensburg and earned a split with Kutztown this season.
In past seasons, Bellaver’s squad has been tough to beat inside Hollinger Field House. This season the Lady Rams had a home record of 10-6 and when on the road WCU was 9-3. WCU was 4-3 when playing at neutral sites this season.
The Golden Rams opened up conference play by taking on three teams from the PSAC West. Gannon, Mercyhurst and Edinboro all defeated the Lady Rams rather easily. In fact WCU salvaged one game in the loss to Gannon and were swept by Mercyhurst and Edinboro 3-0. West Chester is notoriously known for struggling against the PSAC West opponents.
After starting out 0-3 in the PSAC conference, the Golden Rams traveled to Kutztown, where they swept the Golden Bears 3-0. At that point it seemed as though the team was playing well, and they were able to win seven out of their next nine games.
WCU ended the 2010 campaign by winning six out of their last eight games. The two losses came against top-seeded Lock Haven and third ranked Shippensburg. The 2010 West Chester volleyball team will be remembered for having a lot of heart and never giving up.
After spending her last four years here at WCU, Powers attributes a lot of her success to coach Bellaver.
“[Coach Bellaver] has been absolutely wonderful through the four years. Her passion for the team is more than I could ever ask of a coach. She is truly a role model to our team, having two daughters and being pregnant while coaching division 2 collegiate volleyball,” Powers said.
Powers will leave the WCU volleyball program as one of the all-time leading scorers in Golden Rams’ history. “Ihave no words for the honor and gratitude I feel having been a part of the WCUVolleyball program and I hope all the best to the future teams,” Powers said.
Now that the 2010 season is over coach, Bellaver cannot help but remain optimistic about the future of her team. Though it will be difficult to fill the void of the likes of Powers, Yost, Jingeleski and Focht, the Lady Rams have a few young players that will have to step up and fill big shoes.
In addition to having returning players such as Campbell, Fitzpatrick, Martin and Kegerise, look out for freshman Tyler Sheafer and Allison Grammer to get more playing time next season. Sheafer contributed this year with 210 digs and Grammer registered 107 kills in a limited role as a freshman.
“Preparationfor 2011 is underway,” Bellaver said.
Steven Fisher is a fourth-year student majoring in communications with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at SF674180@wcupa.edu.