Lady Lions have high hopes this fall

The Penn State Altoona women’s volleyball team is set to begin its 2018 season on a quest for success.

The team tied for first place in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference’s preseason rankings, joining Pitt-Bradford in that first-place nod. Last season, both Penn State Altoona and Pitt-Bradford finished 7-2 in the AMCC, with the Lady Lions getting the edge over UPB from head-to-head record.

To live up to those expectations, coach Phil Peterman — in his 11th season — knows what his club needs to do to reach those goals.

“Keeping the team healthy and injury-free,” he said.

The execution in winning games is very important to Peterman.

“We will also continue to stress making perfect passes out of serve receive and when the opposing team gives us free balls. As a team, we will have to continue to develop a sense of urgency on the court, so that we are not missing serves and continue to develop put-away hitters that will give us the ability to side out.”

The Lady Lions return three seniors in outside hitters Kelsey Bristol and Kaitlin Cassaday, as well as defensive specialist Nicole Kiser.

“I hope that this leadership continues through the season. I have enjoyed great success with these three individuals over the last three seasons,” he said. “I would love to send them out with another successful year and with an AMCC Championship and berth to the NCAA tournament.”

The team also returns junior Emily Bryan and sophomores Lauren Moran, Tara Ryan and Velanna Skripek.

Bristol led the team in digs per set last season with 3.62, and Moran led the team in assists with 546 and service aces with 31. Both have been named players to watch by the AMCC for the 2018 season. Bristol was also voted a second team All-AMCC selection last year. Bristol and Skripek lead the returning starters in kills and kills per set from last season, while Ryan had 24 kills over 79 sets last year.

New to the roster this year are Alison Abrashoff, Kaila Clawson, Lea Crofcheck, Alyson Onder, Kelsey Short, Eden Taddei, Abigail Williamson and Kristin Wineland.

“I look forward to a bright future from this freshmen class,” he said. “They bring height, power, and are very good defensively. The majority of them will be contributors right away. They bring good spirit to the court and are confident in their own abilities. They don’t shy away from competition and have a strong desire to win.”

The team also welcomes Alexis Cannistraci and Paige Burk over from the women’s basketball team.

They Lady Lions are at home Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Penn College. The AMCC schedule gets rolling on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Medaille College.