HUNTINGDON — The Penn State Altoona women’s volleyball team, making its third-ever NCAA postseason appearance in program history Thursday night, lost to No. 1 seed Juniata College in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament regional at Memorial Gymnasium.
Juniata (30-0) posted a sweep to advance to the next round, winning in three sets 25-10, 25-13, and 25-19. Penn State Altoona (16-11) is eliminated from the postseason with its loss.
Lacee Barnhart had a team-high seven kills for Penn State Altoona, and she also finished with 10 digs. Lia Simanski added six kills to go along with six digs, and Makenna Port tallied four kills and a block assist.
Julia Emel totaled 11 assists, and she also finished with nine digs, one service ace, and one block assist. Abigail Brinker chipped in with six assists.
Anna Batrus tied for the match-high in digs with a total of 17.
Juniata grabbed a lead early in the first set, but Penn State Altoona stayed within two points, thanks to a setting error by the Eagles and a Simanski kill. But the home team reeled off a 9-0 run to turn its 4-2 advantage into a 13-2 lead. Down 18-4, the Lions capitalized on four Juniata errors in the span of five points to make it 19-8. But the Eagles went on to take the first set by 15 points, 25-10.
Penn State Altoona scored the first two points of the second set, jumping out to 2-0 lead after a Juniata attack error and Emel’s ace. Three Juniata points later, Barnhart’s kill tied it at 3-3.
After the Eagles went on another run to claim a lead, kills by Karlie Feathers, Simanski, and Port helped keep the Lions within six, 15-9, midway through the set. Barnhart scored another kill to make it 17-10, and the Lions got a pair of kills late in the set from Simanski, but Juniata still won the second set by 12 points, 25-13.
The Lions worked their way out to a lead in the third set. Trailing 3-1, Penn State Altoona went on a 5-0 run to stake out a 6-3 lead, getting two kills from Simanski, one from Port, and a Taylor Myers ace.
Another Port kill set the Lions’ lead at 8-6. But Juniata quickly turned the tables, reeling off a 12-1 run to leap in front, 18-9. Down 23-12 later in the set, Penn State Altoona used a 7-1 run to narrow the gap to five points, 24-19. The run was helped by a duo block from Emel and Port, along with kills from Port and Barnhart. But Juniata ended the run to score the match-clinching point, ending the set at 25-19.
Juniata will play Marymount, out of Virginia, tonight in the semifinals at 7 .
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