ALTOONA, PA -- The La Roche women's volleyball team advanced to their first-ever AMCC Tournament Championship Match after coming back to defeat Penn State Altoona 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-20) on Saturday afternoon. The Redhawks will play tomorrow against the winner of the Pitt-Bradford/Penn State Behrend Semifinal match. Tomorrow's championship match will determine who will represent the AMCC in this year's NCAA Tournament.
La Roche stormed out of the gates and built a 15-7 lead in the first set. Laura Nath had three kills and Erin Conner a serving ace. Altoona also committed seven errors over the course of the run. The Lions responded with seven straight points to cut the deficit to a single point and then climbed ahead at 19-18. Nath, Maddie Gestrich and Toni Torchia provided kills to tie it at 22-22 but Altoona rallied down the stretch for a 25-22 set one win.
The Redhawks followed their quick set 1 start with an even faster start in set 2. La Roche again took advantage of Altoona errors building leads of 6-1 and 10-2. Nath, Reilee Bradford and Haley Ebersole sparked the offense while Ebersole and Christine Aland redirected balls at the net. Altoona twice closed the gap to six but a consistent Redhawk attack allowed them cruise to an eight point set 2 victory.
La Roche opened the third set with a 4-0 lead after a Nath kill and three Lion errors. Altoona tied it at 4-4 and took their first lead of the match at 12-11. The Lions led 22-20 and it looked like they would take a 2-1 match lead, before the Redhawks rallied late. The Redhawk offense did a terrific job of pressuring Altoona's defense and forcing the Lions to commit five straight errors and the set 3 win.
The Redhawks trailed 11-9 in the fourth set but they strung together four straight points for a 13-11 lead. Nath provided two kills and the other two points came off Altoona errors. La Roche pushed the lead to 18-13 but the host Lions did not want their season to end and cut it back to one at 19-18. Nath responded like she has all season and ended the match with two straight kills.
Nath had a game-high 18 kills with Torchia contributing 13. The offense went through Gestrich and Sarah Storino who combined for 39 assists. AMCC digs leader Hannah Scott had 41 and Christine Aland had 2 blocks.
The Redhawks advance to their first-ever AMCC Championship Match and will play Pitt-Braford/Penn State Behrend tomorrow at 1pm.
Photo credit to Ryan George.