State College, Pa. - Hazleton's turnaround in 2018 was quite the story. The squad ended a five year playoff drought with a 15-10 overall record and three players earning All-Conference awards in the Penn State University Athletic Conference, but the Lady Lions's playoff hopes stalled Monday night with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of top seeded Penn State Fayette in the conference semi-finals at University Park.
Following a 25-14 loss in set number one, Hazleton bounced back to take lead in the second frame. A five point run featuring kills by sophomore Chelsey Dominguez (Bronx, Ny.) and senior Mariah Curry (Pottsville, Pa.) gave Hazleton a 9-6 advantage midway through the set but back and forth play would dominate the remainder of the frame. Fayette reclaimed the lead with a seven point run but the Lady Lions clawed right back into the set with a four point swing of the their own to trail by just one point at 17-16 in favor of Fayette. Both squads would trade points down the stretch but Fayette held their slim lead to claim the pivotal second set by the score of 25-23. Hazleton's two set deficit proved a task too difficult to overcome as momentum swung back in Fayette's favor. The top seeded squad from the west poured on the offense to pull away from the Lady Lions, punching their ticket to the conference finals with a 25-9 win in set three, eliminating Hazleton three sets to none.
Sophomore Samaya Hornsby (Richmond, Ca.) led Hazleton with seven kills on the night while Curry and Dominguez added five and four kills respectively. Sophomore Damaris Ayala (Berwick, Pa.) added a team high 15 assists with senior Lauren Nietz (Coaldale, Pa.) topping all Hazleton players defensively with 20 digs in the semifinal.