McKeesport, PA. – The 2018-2019 season saw the Penn State Greater Allegheny Volleyball Team (10-14, 3-7) continue to grow as they got closer to a Penn State University Athletic Conference Playoff Spot. Second-Year head coach Alyssa Finocchi brought in a strong recruiting class of nine girls that will help continue to grow the program as they move towards the off-season.
PSUGA got off to a hot start to the PSUAC portion of their schedule when they picked up a 3-0 win over PSU-Mont Alto to give the girls some confidence early in the season. However, they would drop three of their next four conference games to fall to 2-3 heading into the PSUAC Crossover Weekend.
Those four games would become the turning point of the season with PSUGA going a perfect 4-0 at the crossover event. They only loss one set the entire weekend to PSU-Hazleton and they got their overall record to 7-9 and had new found confidence as they entered the second half of their conference schedule. They still sat in the middle of the PSUAC playoff race and needed to pick up two wins in their next three games to grab a playoff spot.
They had to face three tough opponents in PSU-Mont Alto, PSU-DuBois, and PSU-Beaver and lost all three games to drop their conference record to 2-6. PSUGA had one last chance to clinch a playoff spot, but they needed to beat the eventual number two seed PSU-Fayette to have a chance. They battled in that game finding themselves in every single set however, they fell just short and were officially eliminated from the playoffs.
2018-2019 saw not only growth on the field, but some great individual performances from newcomers and veterans alike. Freshman Alix Ellis (Derry, PA./Derry Area HS) had a dominating freshman campaign leading the team with 182 kills on 498 total attacks while also leading the team with 39 total blocks. Ellis ranked fifth in the conference with 3.08 kills/set and eighth in the conference with her 182 kills.
Seiblesierra Ili (Barstow, CA./Barstow HS) and Kimmy Tinker (Ewing, IL./Benton Consolidated HS) also came through with impact seasons leading the defensive side of the ball. Tinker served as the libero for most of the season and led the team with 181 digs in 14 matches played. She suffered an injury halfway through the season, but fought her way back in just under 14 days to finish the season strong.
Ili made her mark on the PSUGA volleyball program finishing with 334 assists in her freshman season. For her efforts, she now ranks third in career assists in PSUGA school history. Ili also contributed on the offensive side of the ball knocking down 31 kills on 117 total attacks to finish fourth on the team.
Veteran Kaylee Holtzman (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport HS) fed off the energy provided by the newcomers and turned in a career year in her sophomore season. She set new career highs in kills (81), total attacks (247), and sets played (47). She, along with Ellis and Sueriah Timsah (Mesquite, TX./West Mesquite HS), formed a trio of attackers that PSUGA had at their disposal throughout the season.
Now that we move towards the offseason, the future looks bright for the PSUGA volleyball team. With eight of their freshmen returning next season, it will give them a chance to get another year older as they continue to chase a PSUAC playoff spot. Ili will be taking a break next season to serve missionary, but will return to the team the following season in 2020-2021.
It was an exciting ride for the 2018-2019 PSUGA Volleyball team and now they head into the offseason looking to create that winning formula for the 2019-2020 season.