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Rees, Geib Lead Messiah Over Lebanon Valley
Messiah won the last three sets against LVC after dropping a close first set.

Grantham, PA – The Messiah Falcons moved to 3-0 in the Commonwealth in their defeat of rival Lebanon Valley in an intense, four-set match in Grantham on Wednesday night. Junior Lauren Rees collected 19 kills in the victory, hitting an impressive .396 on the night with zero errors. Sophomore Jess Geib collected 40 assists for Messiah as they moved to 11-4 overall.

The win was undoubtedly extra sweet for the returning members of Messiah’s team, considering LVC knocked the Falcons out of the Commonwealth Championship tournament in 2010. For the few that may need reminding, Messiah went up 2-0 in sets and eventually took a 10-4 lead in the fifth set. Needless to say, the defeat was a crushing ending to Messiah’s season.

Tonight, however, Messiah was able to ride momentum to a victory. After dropping the first set 23-25, Messiah would roll off three straight winning sets by scores of 25-22, 25-22, and 25-23.

In the first set, the Dutchmen (10-4, 4-1) rallied from an early 13-8 deficit behind the strong play of senior Jamie Hawk (14 kills). The tight set victory, though undesired by the home crowd, energized the home team.

“We went down tight in the first set, so it’s not like we got creamed,” said Messiah head coach Judi Tobias. “We were ahead early, so we knew we could come back strong from the loss.”

Come back they did. Although LVC would keep the games close, the Falcons would find a way to make the big plays at the end of each set to earn the victories. Rees and Geib were in the middle of most of it.

"It’s fun to watch them develop and grow. They’ve learned how to do something with the ball when they’re out of position,” Tobias noted. “We’ve tried to help them mature and see how they should react on different plays—and they’re doing just that.”

Though the box score may not show it, the fourth set victory for Messiah wouldn’t come without a strong challenge by the visitor. The Dutchmen ran out to an immediate 7-0 lead behind Hawk, senior Nicole Barra (10 kills), and freshman setter Kacey Musselman (46 assists).

While fans may have been thinking a fifth set was inevitable. For Tobias, it was a challenge to her team.

“I called a timeout when we were down 6-0,” said Tobias. “We told them that we were scrambling and that we needed to just settle down and get back to good passing and clean hitting.”

The Falcons would do just that, outscoring their opponent 25-16 after the early deficit to capture the huge Commonwealth decision. For Tobias, the win said a lot about her 2011 squad.

“Coming into tonight, we talked about 2010 a little bit. But we have a new team this year. Last year is history, so we just wanted to capitalize on our strengths as they are right now.

With their win tonight, Messiah’s strengths seem as strong as ever.

The Falcons (11-4, 3-0) will travel to Misericordia University for the annual MAC Crossover on Friday, September 30. The team will oppose both Misericorida (3:00 p.m.) and DeSales University (5:00 p.m.), respectively.