WASHINGTON – The SUNY Polytechnic Women's Volleyball Team (16-19, 7-5 NEAC) saw its season draw to a close on Friday evening, as the #6 Wildcats fell to the #3-seeded Nittany Lions of Penn State Berks in four sets.
It certainly could have been a different match for the unlucky Wildcats. SUNY Poly was bounced from the first set in heartbreaking fashion, 26-24. The Wildcats had been up 24-21 but the Nittany Lions rattled off five straight to take the set.
Despite the tough first set, the Wildcats rebounded with a 25-23 victory in the second set to even the match. This time the Wildcats played well down the stretch: down 23-22, Megan Will (Remsen, N.Y. / Remsen) came up with back-to-back kills to give the Wildcats the lead at 24-23. Shelby Kostal (Greenport, N.Y. / Greenport) then finished things off with an ace.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, something seemed to click for the Nittany Lions after the second set, as Berks went on to win the final two games going away, 25-11 and 25-19.
The two teams' best players were on display in the match. The Wildcats' two all-conference selections – Emma Larson (Miller Place, N.Y. / Miller Place) and Megan Will – finished with 14 and 13 kills respectively. Larson had 3 aces as well, and would have led the team in hitting percentage were it not for junior and team co-captain Morgan Eberley (Utica, N.Y. / Whitesboro) who had an outstanding match with 9 kills, no errors, and a team-high 16 digs.
Ultimately, SUNY Poly was simply outgunned on the other side of the net. Most notably, 1st Team All-Conference hitter and current NEAC leader in kills-per-set Sophia Zhang was on fire. Zhang finished with an eyebrow-raising 26 kills, making just 5 errors on the day and leading all players with a .412 hitting percentage. As a team the Nittany Lions out-hit the Wildcats .272 to .141, notching 57 kills to SUNY Poly's 48.
The Wildcats wrap up their year with nothing to hang their heads about. Lacking a single senior, SUNY Poly was one of the youngest teams in the league this season yet managed to qualify for the NEAC Tournament for the 7th straight season, or every season since SUNY Polytechnic joined the conference in 2008.