For Penn State Greater Allegheny Volleyball alumnus Brianna Audette, PSUGA showed her the true meaning of family. Audette helped build the foundation of the PSUGA volleyball team and sculpted the program into what it is today. But, for Audette, PSUGA was more then a team she played on, it was a family that she will cherish forever.
“My time spent on the PSUGA Volleyball team was definitely some of the best years of my life,” said Audette. “We were like a big family. I made friendships and memories that will last forever. Representing PSUGA was an honor that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Prior to coming to PSUGA, Audette had no idea where her life after high school would take her. She was a four-year player at Coatesville high school and new she wanted to play volleyball at the next level. It would be at a showcase at California University of Pennsylvania where her eyes were opened to the possibility of a volleyball career at PSUGA.
“PSUGA actually found me,” said Audette. “I went to a volleyball showcase at Cal-U when I was in high school and coach Tracy Gibbs recruited me there. I came to visit the campus and fell in love as soon as I saw everything it had to offer. It seemed like everyone was so nice and willing to answer questions and I had no problem with it.”
After some deliberation, Audette determined that PSUGA would be the perfect place to continue her educational and athletic career. She arrived on campus in August of 2013 and from the moment she walked on to campus, she realized that this was a place where people cared about her success and a place she could grow.
“My first impression of the campus was how nice it looked,” said Audette. “The fitness center definitely caught my eye and the cafeteria of course. The people seemed so nice to me, everyone was willing to help.”
While Audette was enjoying the transition from high school to college, her team was having success right from the get go as well. During her freshman season, PSUGA went 7-8 in Penn State University Athletic Conference play and made the playoffs for the first time in program history. While her team was succeeding Audette had a strong showing herself finishing second on the team with 177 digs while grabbing 15 kills on 127 total attacks.
PSUGA would pick up their first ever playoff win defeating PSU-New Kensington 3-0 to advance to the PSUAC Championship game before falling to PSU-Brandywine in the championship game 3-0. Despite not claiming the championship, that season helped Audette and her teammates to want to work harder for the next season.
“That early success was awesome,” said Audette. “It definitely pushed me to want to work even harder for the next season. Since our team was so much like a family and we all worked really well together the transition was super easy.”
The following season saw Audette and her team have even more success setting the single season program record for wins in a season going 21-10 and 11-7 in PSUAC play making the playoffs for a second straight season. They once again picked up a win in the first round sweeping PSU-Beaver 3-0, but were eliminated in the final four when PSU-Fayette moved on to the championship with a 3-0 win.
Athletically, it was one of the most exciting times of Audette’s life and it helped teach her how hard work and focus can really pay off.
“Making it to the playoffs both years took a lot of focus because some of the teams we played gave us a huge challenge and others didn’t,” said Audette. “But we had to make sure we didn’t underestimate the teams that were usually an easy win for us because they could have easily become a loss. Being part of the team helped me grow into a better team leader and player at the same time.”
Over her two seasons with the team, Audette amassed over 400 career digs and ranks third all-time in PSUGA Volleyball history with 404 digs and fourth all-time with 2.40 digs per set. She also played in the fourth most sets of any PSUGA career appearing in 168 sets over her two seasons.
Audette and her teammates not only had a lot of success in their seasons, but also helped lay the foundation for the program as it builds and keeps growing even today. Looking back, Audette takes pride in the accomplishments that her and her teammates were able to achieve and is enjoying watching the program continue to grow.
“Looking at the program now and knowing I helped build it is so awesome to think about,” said Audette. “Seeing Alyssa [Finocchi] coach and build the program is amazing and I’m so proud of her and what she has accomplished. One day, I hope to be able to come be her assistant and continue to build the program.”
Since leaving PSUGA, Audette has taken up a role as a caterer and manager’s assistant. While Audette hasn’t reached her goals as of yet, she is using the many skills that PSUGA provided her to be able to continue to strive for greatness and follow her dream of working in marketing and succeeding in the business world.
“I have not reached my specific goals in life yet, but PSUGA prepared me for the role I play at my current job as a caterer/manager’s assistant,” said Audette. “It helped me become a wiser person in the business world which ultimately has made me more successful.”
To anyone thinking about pursuing an education at PSUGA, Audette offers this advice. Take advantage of everything offered by PSUGA because it is going to help you in the long run.
“PSUGA is an awesome university to attend,” said Audette. “It has so much to offer educationally and athletic wise. Take advantage of all the extra things it has to offer like the learning center. It is very helpful with the extra tutoring and help that comes with it. I think that being involved with athletics and the extracurricular activities is beneficial to your educational career as well, it keeps you involved and motivated to get things done.”
While Audette keeps climbing the latter in the business world, she knows that it is the hard work that she put in at PSUGA that will propel her to reach her life goals and continue the legacy of her fellow PSUGA alumni.