USCAA volleyball champions

Members of the Penn State Fayette women’s volleyball team celebrate with the USCAA National Championship trophy the Lady Lions won Saturday in Virginia Beach. (Submitted photo)

Samantha Swetz knew in the summer what her Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus women’s volleyball team was capable of.

“I’ve been saying it since August, I got all the recruits that I wanted and I had girls coming back that I needed,” said the Ringgold graduate and former Lady Lions star. “I knew that this year was going to be the year for us.”

That year ended with the Lady Lions lifting the USCAA National Championship trophy on Saturday at Virginia Beach Field House.

Fayette, coming off its 12th PSUAC championship, swept through the tournament, capping off its run to the title with a 3-1 victory over defending champion Johnson & Wales (N.C.), its second win over the Wildcats in three days.

The Lady Lions (30-3) pulled out a tight, 26-24 win in the first set and took the second set 25-21. Johnson & Wales fought back to grab the third set, 25-18, but Fayette closed out the match and the championship with a 25-23 win in the fourth set.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s like every part of the plan you set forth finally fell together,” Swetz said. “And then you get to have that big moment.”

Siteri Tale, as she has done all season, led the Lady Lions in the final with 22 kills and also had eight digs.

“Siteri means the world to our team, not only on the court as an athlete but off the court as well,” Swetz said of the Laurel Highlands graduate. “She’s just a phenomenal kid, just her character and the person that she is. As a leader on the team, she’s always very positive, very motivating. She’s a kid that even the other side roots for.”

Carmichaels graduate Jadyn Barnish (20 assists, 10 digs) and Albert Gallatin grad Michaela Hall (24 digs) turned in their typical stellar efforts as well.

“Jadyn’s fantastic,” Swetz said. “She was one of my sought after recruits. I knew exactly what she could do for us and she’s done every part of it.

“Michaela Hall was a setter her whole life but she turned into the libero that I knew she always could be. She really showed that in the championship match.”

Southmoreland graduate Justyne Howell contributed 11 assists and 10 digs for Fayette.

The Lady Lions also topped J&W, 3-1, on Thursday in pool play, and followed that up with dominating 3-0 sweeps of Great Bay Community College (25-16, 25-13, 25-15) and Penn State Greater Allegheny (25-14, 25-17, 25-15) on Saturday to set up a rematch with the Wildcats.

Swetz, in her third season as Fayette coach, was emotional after the monumental win.

“In between the tears, I was just telling them I told you guys you could do it and you did,” Swetz said. “You proved exactly what I’ve been saying all season.”

How were the Lady Lions going to celebrate on Saturday night?

“They’re going to a seafood buffet that they love down here,” Swetz said with a laugh.

“It’s been a terrific season.”

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