ShareThis Page

Penn State-Fayette looking for another PSUAC title

| Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, 1:51 a.m.
The Penn State-Fayette women's volleyball team is gunning for its fifth straight PSUAC championship. Team members are (front row, from left) Emily Konter, Emily Caldwell, Laura Hefner and Abbey Tirpak; top row, coach Nancy Wheeler, Leah Ambrosini, Katlyn Salisbury, Sam Helmantoler and Janelle Cooper. Evan R. Sanders/Daily Courier

The members of the Penn State-Fayette women's volleyball team will head to University Park for the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference championship tournament this weekend.

It's a trip the Roaring Lions have become used to making. It's also a tournament they are accustomed to winning.

The Roaring Lions will be looking for their fifth consecutive PSUAC title and seventh championship in the past eight seasons.

Penn State-Fayette, the top seed, opens the tournament at 5 p.m. Sunday when it takes on Penn State-Hazleton in a semifinal match. The championship match will be played at 3 p.m. Monday.

“We're really close as a team,” Penn State-Fayette outside hitter Leah Ambrosini said.

Ambrosini, a 2008 Connellsville graduate and the Roaring Lions' lone senior, knows a thing or two about success. She is Penn State-Fayette's all-time kills leader and has 284 kills heading into this postseason.

Emily Konter has contributed to many of Ambrosini's kills. The sophomore setter finished the regular season with 664 assists.

Right side/middle hitter Janelle Cooper, middle hitter Katlyn Salisbury, outside/right side hitter Sam Helmantoler, outside hitter Emily Caldwell and defensive specialists Laura Hefner and Abbey Tirpak also have played key roles in Fayette's continued success this season.

“We may not have a lot of height, but the chemistry we have is unbeatable,” Ambrosini said.

Not only have the Roaring Lions (22-5, 16-0) been unbeatable in the conference, they also have been dominating. Penn State-Fayette has won 46 straight conference games dating to the 2010 season. This year, all 16 conference wins have come in straight sets.

“It didn't start out as a goal,” fourth-year coach Nancy Wheeler said about sweeping every conference match. “But then we started to notice it and we made it one of our goals. We fought for every point, and that helped us play to our level and keep our intensity up.”

Wheeler has won the PSUAC Coach of the Year Award each of the three previous seasons, not to mention she has guided the team to its past three conference crowns.

“I just think each year, we try to improve ourselves in some fashion,” Wheeler said, deflecting credit to the players, especially senior captain Ambrosini. “I think the main ingredient is Leah. Being a senior, she has been to the championship three times in a row, and she helps carry our team.”

The Roaring Lions are also seeded second in the United States Collegiate Athletic Conference and will compete in the USCAA tournament in November. But before that, the Roaring Lions will focus on trying to win another PSUAC title.

For Ambrosini, winning a fourth conference championship would be unforgettable.

“I think it is something that I will carry with me forever,” Ambrosini said. “I'll remember all of the great experiences I've had here.”

Of course, nothing is guaranteed, and the Roaring Lions understand that the title won't just be handed to them.

“I don't think we underestimate any team,” Ambrosini said.

Wheeler also believes her team will be locked in on the competition.

“I don't think we get overconfident,” Wheeler said. “Every match is important, and you can't bypass any team because you never know what can happen.”

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-626-3534.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.