Plum alum Magnusen earns big AMCC women's volleyball honor
The Penn State Behrend women's volleyball team is the hunted, as the Lions recently were picked by the coaches of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference to win the regular-season title in 2013.
Also on the radar of Behrend's opponents is Chelsea Magnusen, a Plum graduate who will be a senior captain on the squad this season.
The coaches tabbed Magnusen, a setter, as the league's Preseason Player of the year.
“It really feels good to be recognized for all the hard work I've put in the past three seasons,” Magnusen said. “It makes me even more determined and ready for the season.”
Magnusen had a stellar 2012 junior season.
She earned first-team all-conference honors while leading the Lions with 924 assists and was second with 36 service aces.
Magnusen also ranked No. 1 in the league in assists per set and was third in attack percentage.
Behrend won the AMCC conference title in 2012 and finished conference play undefeated at 9-0.
The Lions reached the conference championship match, but were upset by Medaille, 3-1.
After seeing significant playing time as a freshman, Magnusen continued her strong play as a sophomore. She played in all 31 matches and led the team with 884 assists, averaging 8.26 assists per set. She also chipped in 253 digs, 108 kills and a team-best 29 service aces.
Magnusen said she's excited for her senior season and what it could bring for her and her team.
“It's a little bittersweet feeling knowing it's my last year of school and my last year of organized volleyball, but it is a great feeling to know that I have had success in every season I've played,” she said.
“I know I still have room to improve defensively, and I am never satisfied with where I am at. I am looking forward to making it a good season and one that I surely will remember.”
Magnusen and her teammates are preparing for the season with continued heavy hearts after the loss of teammate Catherine Healy in an automobile accident near Healy's Connellsville home in June.
Healy had a breakout season last fall as a sophomore and earned All-AMCC honors after leading the conference in hitting percentage (.354). She was to be one of the team's three captains with Magnusen.
“Catherine was my best friend, and we were very close on and off the court,” Magnusen said.
“We were always together, and it was a very big shock for everyone and very tough to accept. It's still kind of difficult to believe this happened.”
Magnusen said that there is a very strong support system among her teammates and other members of the campus community, and that has helped everyone navigate through the tragedy as best as possible.
“The team is closer than ever now,” she said.
“We are ready to dedicate the season to her and play our hearts out for her. She would hate it if we took a step back in how we perform. She always wanted all of us to succeed as well as her. It will be a challenging and emotional season, but we have to keep in mind she is in a better place and is watching over us.”
Magnusen and her Behrend teammates will take part in a special dedication ceremony in honor of Healy on Saturday at Mountz Creek Park near Connellsville.
Members of the Connellsville Parks and Recreation Board agreed to name the new sand volleyball courts at the park in memory of Healy.
The courts will sport a stone marker that states “Cat's Court” and will have a welcome sign. Healy was known affectionately as “Cat” by all who knew her.
The dedication will be at 4 p.m. on Saturday, and a series of scrimmage tribute games will follow.
“It originally was going to be a game between (Behrend) and players from (Penn State Fayette), but it grew into something larger.”
Friends of Healy hope a volleyball tournament, in conjunction with a scholarship in Healy's honor, can be an annual event.
As for collegiate volleyball activities, Behrend kicks off its season Aug. 30 and 31 at the Westminster Tournament.
After two more tournaments and dual matches against Hiram (Ohio) and Grove City in the month of September, the Lions open AMCC play on Sept. 28 with a home quad match. Behrend will play conference foes Franciscan (W.Va.) and Penn State Altoona.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.