Expectations were high heading into this season for the Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus women’s volleyball team.

The Lady Lions open play in the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) tournament Thursday against PS Mont Alto, and head coach Sam Swetz has her eyes on big things from her team that lost one only key contributor from last season’s PSUAC championship team and finished third at the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championships.

The team is looking for its second-straight PSUAC crown and 12th overall.

“Our returning nucleus has come back strong,” Swetz said before turning attention to her talented freshman class that is contributing. “The freshmen that have claimed their spot on the court have found made the hard transition from high school to college.

“About midway through the season is when they truly grew into their newfound selves and it has been fun to watch.”

Swetz said the team is focused on moving up from third last year at the USCAA championships and want to win the national title.

“The expectations have been high since the beginning of the year for us and will continue to stay there,” she said. “I truly believe this year we will come home with another PSUAC championship and a national championship, as well.”

The team was 22-3 overall heading into Tuesday night’s PSUAC finale against PS Beaver and has won a staggering 68 out of 83 sets played this season.

White Out

After a tough win at Iowa, Penn State held on to down Michigan in this year’s White Out. The crowd was boisterous and energetic.

“There is nothing better than experiencing a White Out game in Beaver Stadium,” said Chelsee Ritz, of Carmichaels, who stayed warm in the second half thanks to some hot chocolate. “It is the greatest atmosphere on the planet!”

Paul Lancaster, of Uniontown, was in Happy Valley to visit his son Gregory, a sophomore at PSU, and to attend the game.

“What an amazing experience,” he said. “There is nothing like it.”

Online reader Chris Knapp, from Pottsville, emailed his observations.

“Looking out into the stadium Saturday night I thought to myself that there can’t be a better student section or fan base in the country,” said Knapp. “What an atmosphere.”

Bria Rathway, of Belle Vernon, played college basketball at Carlow and was blown away by the environment.

“It is something every college football fan should experience in their lifetime,” Rathway said of a White Out at Beaver Stadium. “It is hard to put into words what it is like to see over 110,000 fans all in white cheering.

“It’s one big family atmosphere and you just get the chills.”

George Stevenson is a teacher at Uniontown and a PSU season ticket holder for over 35 years.

“The White Out atmosphere never gets old because the fans have the stadium rocking, literally,” he said. “The atmosphere caused (Jim) Harbaugh and Michigan to burn a timeout before they could run their first play.”

Steve and Valerie Beck, of Monessen, sat in the front row in the North end zone and spoke before the game with ESPN personality Maria Taylor, and she looked at the crowd in awe.

Penn State heads to Michigan State Saturday to face its kryptonite in the Spartans before getting a much needed week off.

The Nittany Lions looked tired on defense as the game wore on against Michigan, and a third physical game in as many weeks could be a recipe for another defeat, although MSU is struggling.

Pitt to NY6 bowl?

With Pitt’s road win at Syracuse, the possibility of a 10-win season is still in front of the Panthers.

If Pitt gets to 10 wins, could it make a New Year’s Six Bowl?

The Panthers would need some help, but if they finish as the second-highest ranked ACC team and if Clemson makes the College Football Playoff again, Pitt would be headed to a NY6 game.

A struggling Miami team is next for Pitt.

A year ago, Pat Narduzzi predicted a division title. He didn’t do it this year, but could the Panthers pull off a repeat?

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