McKeesport, Pa. – The Penn State Greater Allegheny Volleyball Team had a season of ups and downs in 2017. They finished the year with a record of 8-13 overall and 6-10 in conference play. However, there were times throughout the season where they played much better than that overall record suggests.
The ladies got off to a slow start in the beginning of the season going just 2-8 over their first 10 matches of the season. During that span they won just nine sets while their opponents took 26. However, they would turn things around and win their next six contests to get their record back to even at 8-8. They also found themselves right back in the playoff picture as they climbed all the way from 9th in the Penn State University Athletic Conference to 7th. With only five matches to go in the season, the ladies would need to win three of them to make the PSUAC playoffs.
It would be no easy task to accomplish, however, as they had to face the 2nd place team twice and the fourth-place team once in those last five games. They fought valiantly, but could not come through dropping their final five matches of the season. There best performance of the year came during that stretch when they took PSU-Beaver to five sets but lost out 3-2.
In that match-up they used communication to call out every play and everyone was working hand-in-hand. PSUGA took a two sets to one lead and tried to close things out in four sets, however, Beaver won the fourth set 26-24 before getting the win in the fifth set 15-9. That match showed just what type of fight this team had despite what the records suggested.
Laura Vazquez Diaz (San Juan, Puerto Rico/Cupey Maria Montessori) had a great senior year leading the team in many statistical categories including kills (52), total attacks (201), and digs (102). She was also a great communicator on the court and helped to coach some of the younger players as they were adjusting to the program.
Hayley Maksin (Port Vue, Pa./South Allegheny) was another person who helped lead on the court. She finished second on the team in digs with 88 and she lead the team with 23 service aces as the libero. Kaylee Holtzman (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport) shined in her first season with the team finishing second in total attacks (147) and Kills (48). Holtzman played a big part on the offensive side of the ball helping the strikers up front.
Even though this season did not turn out the way they wanted it to, PSUGA Volleyball and head coach Alyssa Finocchi have a lot to look forward to in the future. Holtzman and setter Dolores Kuzmanko (Penn Hills, Pa./Penn Hills) will both have a year of experience under their belts and can use that to help next year’s recruits improve on this year’s record.
Coach Finocchi and Assistant Tyler Szymanski will now look to the off-season as they try to recruit next year’s talent to help keep PSUGA Volleyball going in the right direction for next season and for years to come.