Hazleton, Pa. - Penn State University Athletic Conference play began on Thursday with the Lady Lions hosting the defending champions in Penn State Brandywine. Brandywine captured a closely contested first set and used that momentum to put Hazleton away in straight sets by scores of 25-22, 25-18, and 25-19.
Thursday's match began with back and forth play as both squads jockeyed for position. Set one featured seven lead changes with neither team able to build any kind of a lead until a 6-2 by Brandywine gave the visitors a 4 point cushion at 21-17. The Lady Lions would creep back to within two but Brandywine would take a momentum building frame by a slim three point margin.
A pair of early kills by sophomore Chelsey Dominguez (Bronx, NY) helped Hazleton grab an early 6-5 lead in set two but Brandywine found ways to score in bunches pulling away from the Lady Lions. Trailing by as many as nine points, senior Hailey Trasacco (Hamden, Ct.) served three straight aces, cutting the Brandywine lead to 20-15 but that's as close as the Lady Lions would get, falling behind two sets to zero.
Hazleton would trail for much of the third stanza but kills by senior Lauren Nietz (Coaldale, Pa.) and Dominguez sparked an 8-3 run getting Hazleton back in contention. But with the match all square at 17, Brandywine would respond with a 7-1 run of their own effectively ending the Lady Lions night.
Dominguez notched a career high 10 kills on the evening adding 12 digs in the losing effort. Nietz and sophomore Samaya Hornsby (Richmond, Ca.) led the squad defensively with 14 digs each while freshman Alessandra Banta (Coatesville, Pa.) passed for 16 assists.
Next up: Hazleton will look to pick up their first conference win when they continue Penn State University Athletic Conference action on Sunday. Hazleton will take on Penn State Lehigh Valley in the Dr. Thomas M. Cacesse Gymnasium at 2:15 p.m.