The State College boys’ volleyball team appeared headed for another District 6 title.
Then it all disappeared.
The Little Lions stumbled in the final points to fall to Altoona 25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 29-31, 16-14 Monday night at Tyrone High School. The Mountain Lions next head to a play-in match with Districts 8 and 10 to earn a spot in the PIAA Class 3A bracket.
How close were the Little Lions to a win? They led the final set 10-2 before being outscored 14-4 the rest of the match.
“They just stopped producing offense,” coach Kim-Li Kimel said. “It almost looked like they were playing pepper across the net. They were not putting the ball down.”
The biggest issue was consistency and getting all-around play from her student-athletes.
“We needed two or three guys to play a total package game and we only got one to play a whole match,” Kimel said.
The one who stood out was Nate Reinart, who had 16 kills and three blocks.
“Nate was the horse in the game,” Kimel said. “He was huge.”
Joe McCracken added nine kills and three blocks, Andy Vanden Heuvel served up three aces with two for Quinn Williams to go with his 18 digs, Ryan Kustaborder had 25 assists and eight digs, and Patrick McNutt gave out a dozen assists.
The Little Lions (2-14) finished with the most losses in a season under Kimel, and lost in the district final for a second straight season.
However, with McCracken the only graduating senior, and five of Monday’s starters either freshmen or sophomores, Kimel is looking forward to starting over next season.
“They fought as well as could be expected,” Kimel said. “We’ll be more well balanced next year ... and you have to help them see the big picture.”