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Messiah Goes Perfect 4-0 In Annual Messiah Invitational
The Falcons went 4-0 in their annual Invitational this past weekend. .

Ben Bovenzi, contributor
Grantham, PA - For the first time since 1999, the Messiah Invitational was won by the home team Falcons. Messiah defeated all four opponents over the weekend, capping a snow-filled Saturday with three of their four victories.

Messiah was pushed to a fifth set only by FDU-Florham, with the Falcons earning a suspense-filled 3-2 victory with a fifth set score of 15-13.

Head Coach Judi Tobias expressed her delight with her squad’s play, which contributed to an undefeated month of October (13-0).

“Our goal was to win October,” said Tobias, in her 16th year as Falcons' head. “We did it. I’m thrilled with the way we played. We haven’t won this tournament in quite a while and it was nice to come out on top. The girls were so determined, so focused.”

The weekend began Friday when Messiah took on Catholic University, beating the Cardinals 3-1 (26-24, 25-12, 24-26, 25-11). Messiah junior Lauren Rees led the Falcons with 23 kills on a .364 kill percentage, while senior Megan Wise added 28 digs and sophomore Jess Geib dished out 51 assists. Geib's assist total tied her career high. Not to be forgotten was the stellar play of junior Barbara Fretz, who unloaded on the Catholic serve-receive, notching an incredible nine aces against the Cardinals.

“We work very hard at serving well and serving aggressively,” stated Tobias. “Serving to places, away from people, we work on different aspects of serving as well. It’s just coming together in a number of different ways. Barb did a phenomenal job with nine aces. We are very excited about her and her progress this season. “

Amidst the unusually snowy conditions on Saturday, the Falcons took on the remaining three teams, starting with Roanoke College.

Against the Maroons, the Falcons earned a sweep of 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-13). Messiah’s Rees tallied 12 kills, Wise posted 15 digs while Geib added 23 assists.

FDU-Fordham proved to be the toughest obstacle for the Falcons, the only five-game match for Messiah on the weekend. The Falcons displayed a true team effort to get a 3-2 (15-25, 25-17, 25-22, 28-30, 15-12) victory over the Devils.

Messiah head coach Tobias was thrilled with her team’s ability to stay fixated throughout the heated match, and praised the girl’s attitude despite the various set-backs.

“We’ve been very resilient at so many different times,” said Tobias. “FDU is a tough team, and they’re a different style team than we are, which adds a different flavor to the game. It was fun to see us rise above that their challenge and figure out that we’re still who we are. That was really great to see.”

Messiah’s dominant trio of Rees (17 kills), Wise(26 digs) and Geib (44 assists) posted another strong statistical performance for the Falcons. Senior Emily Hall also stood out in a big way, tallying 12 kills of her own against the Devils.

Ending the tournament with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-13) win over PSU-Harrisburg, Messiah showed their depth as nine different players collected kills for the Falcons. Messiah freshman Megan Gustafson dished out 19 assists while junior Lindsey King led the Falcon attack with 7 kills on a .500 hitting percentage. Senior Lauren Lathrop collected 19 digs and was helped defensively by Kimmie McKenna (7 digs) against the Nittany Lions.

As the Messiah Invitational was the Falcon’s last of regular season play for the team, Tobias and her squad now prepare for the Commonwealth Semifinal match against Lycoming College this Wednesday, November 2nd. It will be the first time in Falcon history that Messiah will host the event, standing as the #1 seed for the tournament.

“To be able to go in as the first seed and play at home, it’s just exciting,” noted Tobias. “It’s on our goal sheet, it’s been what we’ve been working for all season, and so much is coming together. They’re just a wonderful group, they’re so focused, and so driven. We wear 'Messiah' on our shirt, and that’s who we play for. When you have that tunnel vision, that focus, it helps you play to your capabilities."

Wednesday’s Semifinal will be played in Brubaker Auditorium at 7:00 p.m.