Lemont Furnace, PA - The Penn State Fayette volleyball team had a successful campaign in 2017 with its season ending at the USCAA National Volleyball Championships in Virginia Beach, VA. It finished with a 23-11 record, and head coach Samantha Swetz is setting big goals for the 2018 campaign.
"We have a chance to win the first-ever USCAA Division II National Championship, which makes it our primary goal for this season," she said. "It gives our team the chance to make history and forever be remembered."
Swetz talked about the keys for the season. "I believe success comes from hard work," she said. "By the team working hard at practice and showing dedication, I know they will have a very successful season."
When asked to define a successful season, Swetz did not hesitate. "A successful season is learning and growing as a team," she said. "We are very young this year with no seniors so this is a big year to grow and learn."
Junior Siteri Tale (Uniontown/Laurel Highlands HS) will serve as captain. "She is a huge asset to our team," Swetz said. "Last year, she received the second team All-American award for the USCAA. It is a huge accomplishment considering that she is in competition with USCAA Division I athletes that receive athletic scholarships."
Another returning player who will play a big role is sophomore Morgan Pytlak (Rillton, PA/Yough HS). "Morgan is our conditioning captain this year," Swetz said. "She has proven her dedication by her off-season workouts that she has accomplished and with her focus on the 2018 season."
The freshmen class is massive with seven new players coming in and the group consists of Savannah Baker (Uniontown, PA/Uniontown HS), Jadyn Barnish (Carmichaels, Carmichaels HS), Michaela Burke (Scottdale, PA/Southmoreland HS), Carissa Cyphert (Scottdale, PA/Southmoreland HS), Meghan Goodnight (Wheeling, WV/The Linsly School), Madison Knight (Clarksburg, WV/Robert C. Boyd HS) and Jaylah Michael (Fairmont, PA/Fairmont HS).
"Our freshmen are a strong group of girls," Swetz said. "Megan is a freshman captain because of her work ethic, Jayden helped Carmichaels make the second round of the WPIAL playoffs and Anei, while a junior, averaged 30 digs a game in high school as her team's defensive specialist."
Swetz talked about the size of the team. "Our roster consists of 15 girls this year," she said. "It is the biggest Fayette volleyball has ever seen."
The team competes in the PSUAC Conference which is a collection of all Penn State branch campuses. "This year will be the first year that we are split into the East and West (divisions)," Swetz said. "We have the potential to finish at the USCAA if we win our conference."
Swetz says that if the team's work ethic matches its talent, things will go well. "We will have a solid season if our talent works hard," she said. "By that I mean that we have an extremely talented team, but we will be even better if we work hard at every practice because dedication is key to winning."
The teams opens its season on Friday, August 31 at the USCAA Tip Off at PSU-Beaver.
For the latest information on Fayette Volleyball, please visit psfathletics.com.
Written by Bill Hughes