VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Penn State Fayette had redemption on their mind. A year after being knocked out by Johnson & Wales Charlotte in the semifinals of the USCAA Volleyball Division II National Championship tournament, they had their chance for just that.
The PSUAC Champions took home their first national title last weekend in Virginia Beach, Va., capturing the 2019 USCAA Division II Volleyball National Championship in a rematch of that semifinal in 2018. The Nittany Lions won a back-and-forth thriller, upending the defending national champions 3-1 (26-24, 25-21, 18-25, 25-23) en route to Fayette's first ever national championship in any sport.
The Lions won the first set after catching an early lead and expanding it to as much as five midway through the set. Tournament MVP Siteri Tale made it 17-12, but Johnson & Wales rallied to tie the match. Fayette was able to withstand the comeback and escape for a 1-0 lead. The second set saw early ties throughout, but Fayette would eventually extend their lead to win 25-21. Johnson & Wales answered in the third, staving off elimination with a 25-18 win after building an early 10-5 lead.
As would be expected, the fourth set was similar to the first three. Back-and-forth the teams went until Johnson & Wales built a 13-8 lead. But Fayette answered with a five-point rally to tie it, and grabbed a 24-21 lead. Johnson & Wales did not go quietly, killing two potential match points before a service error gave Fayette their final point, and ultimately a trophy.
Tale finished the championship game with 22 kills and eight digs to garner her MVP honors. Teammate Jadyn Barnish dished out 20 assists while Machaela Hall tallied 24 digs for the Lions on championship day.
Fayette finishes the season 30-3, including 4-0 at the USCAA National Championship tournament. The Nittany Lions beat Johnson & Wales Charlotte 3-1 in pool play, then downed Great Bay CC 3-0 to advance to the semifinals. There they knocked out Penn State Greater Allegheny 3-0 before moving on to the championship game.
The national championship for Fayette extends the PSUAC's USCAA title streak to five consecutive seasons. Penn State DuBois baseball kicked off the championship run with a title in spring 2018, followed by a men's soccer championship for Penn State Brandywine in fall 2018. Penn State Wilkes-Barre picked up the Division II men's basketball crown this past winter, before DuBois repeated as baseball champions this past spring.