NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. - On a day on which a pair of Penn State New Kensington seniors were honored, host New Ken dropped a straight-sets decision against PSU Beaver, 25-13, 31-29, 25-18. As a result, New Ken fell to 3-16 overall, and 0-11 in Penn State University Athletic Conference action. Beaver improved to 17-8, and 8-3 in PSUAC.
Prior to the match, New Kensington recognized seniors Kaylea Flick (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional) and Lindsey Hessom (Leechburg, Pa./Kiski Area). Flick, a three-year member of the team who is graduating early, started all 58 matches during her career heading into Sunday, and she has totaled 534 kills, 406 digs, and 121 aces. The outside hitter earned USCAA All-American accolades last year. Hessom, meanwhile, played for New Ken the last two campaigns, starting all 38 matches. Transitioning to setter, Hessom has garnered 662 assists.
New Kensington head coach Dave McGeary detailed the significant contributions of Flick.
"Even as a freshman, she was the best player, and the most court-aware," he said. "We built around her. One thing I like about Kaylea is she's a terrific leader. She encourages the other girls, and instructs and helps them," he said.
He also noted the selflessness of Hessom, who had to learn a new position but has embraced the opportunity to help the team.
"She has persevered, she's done well. She's done everything that we've asked her to do, even if it hasn't been fun for her," he said.
In Sunday's contest, the opening set was controlled by PSU Beaver. The visitors scored the first three points, but New Kensington pulled even later in the set, at 6-6. However, Beaver scored five straight points to regain the lead, and never relinquished it.
The second set required extra points, as the teams battled back and forth. New Ken scored the first two points, and later extended the advantage to 11-4, as the hosts scored five straight, keyed by Auveonna Perkins (Arnold, Pa./Valley) on the serve. Beaver rallied with a surge of its own, though, scoring six consecutive points. Beaver eventually gained the lead, and had set point, but New Ken broke serve to force extra points. After the teams exchanged points, New Ken held set point, at 27-26. Beaver scored to kept the set alive, and later scored two straight points to claim the hard-fought set.
In the final set, neither squad created separation early, as Beaver led 10-8. The visitors utilized an 8-0 run, sparked by sophomore Kelsie Hallum on the service, to establish command. Facing match point against, the hosts scored five straight points to stay alive, but Beaver scored the clinching point to secure the match.
Flick paced New Kensington with a game-high nine kills and three aces, and she tied for the team lead with 12 digs, while freshman Kierra Rose (Uniontown, Pa./Uniontown Area) recorded eight kills. Additionally, Hessom provided 21 assists and eight digs, and junior Janet Surma (Lower Burrell, Pa./Burrell) added 12 digs and four kills.
Senior Amanda Mike registered seven kills and nine digs for Beaver, and sophomore Ramiya White chipped in with six kills. Hallum orchestrated the attack with 19 assists, while sophomore Heaven Bowman and freshman Ashley Rabang provided 21 and 16 digs, respectively.
Both teams conclude the regular season on Tuesday, as New Kensington hosts Penn State Greater Allegheny at 7 p.m., while Penn State Beaver plays at Penn State Fayette at 7:30 p.m.
Written by: Sean Meyers