The following are updates on local athletes at the collegiate level.
Jenna Orlandini (Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, 2008) Washington volleyball senior: Perhaps the end came quicker than anyone expected for both Orlandini and her Huskies at the NCAA Final Four semifinal on Thursday evening.
The No. 3-seeded Huskies, who entered having won seven straight matches, struggled to stay competitive and turned in their two worst sets of the season in falling to visiting second-ranked Penn State, 25-14, 25-13, 25-16, at Key Arena.
The loss ended a season in which Washington finished with a 30-3 record, won its first PAC-12 conference championship since 2005 and was hoping to also claim its first NCAA Division I title since that year.
In what was the senior libero’s collegiate swan song, the 5-foot-6 Orlandini finished with six digs, three off the pace of team-leader Krista Vansant.
Orlandini added two aces and served a total of three times, once in each set.
What no one knew at the time was that Orlandini ended up serving the final time Washington had a lead in any set midway through the first.
Her serve in the first set, with Washington ahead, 11-9, was returned by Penn State’s Micha Hancock for a kill.
Hancock’s spike rotated the Nittany Lions setter to serve and helped fueled an impressive set-ending 16-3 run to clinch the victory.
Michael Davis (Glendale High, 2013) Brigham Young football freshman: Davis and his teammates were selected to participate in the Fight Hunger Bowl taking place at San Francisco’s AT&T Park on Dec. 27 at 6:30 p.m. versus the University of Washington.
BYU enters the contest with an 8-4 mark, while Washington, which finished third in the Pac-12 North, is 8-4.
Davis, a true freshman, has seen plenty of action this season, having played at defensive back in eight games, while making his first-ever collegiate start in the Cougars’ season finale on Nov. 30, a 28-23 road victory versus Nevada.
In that contest, Davis finished with a season-high six tackles while the Cougars defense held high-flying Nevada, which entered averaging 27.3 points and 435.3 yards per contest, to 23 points and 363 yards.
Perhaps Davis’ most high-profile game came a week earlier when the Cougars went into Notre Dame and fell, 23-13, to the Fighting Irish on Nov. 23 in a nationally-televised contest on NBC.
Davis finished with three tackles and his play was singled out by a fellow member of the secondary the next day.
“Mike Davis is a stud of an athlete,” said Cougars junior safety Craig Bills to the Provo Daily Herald on Nov. 24. “He was in a good position all game, even when they threw the ball [at him]. It's just a matter of stepping up and not just being in a spot but making a play.
“I trust Mike Davis a lot and I think he showed that he can cover and he can run with guys. He just needs to focus on making plays. I like him out there.”
So far this season, Davis has 16 total tackles, one tackle for a loss and a pass breakup.
Davis’ one tackle for a loss accounted for minus-24 yards in BYU’s 59-13 victory over Idaho State on Nov. 16.
Davis was not the only local on BYU’s roster, as true freshman Porter Hansen, formerly of Crescenta Valley High, made the team as a walk-on linebacker.
Hansen did not see any action in 2013.
Tyler Marona (St. Francis High, 2011) Syracuse football sophomore: Instead of preparing for the upcoming Texas Bowl versus Minnesota at Houston’s Reliant Stadium on Dec. 27 at 3 p.m., one-time Pasadena City College standout Marona is instead getting ready for life after football.
Marona was medically disqualified from the Orange late in October and has decided not to transfer to another school to continue to play, but rather will finish his academic career at Syracuse. For its part, Syracuse will continue to honor its scholarship commitment with the defensive lineman.
Marona sustained a concussion in an Aug. 10 practice in which he hurt his head while making a tackle. He never took an official snap with Syracuse.
The concussion was the second in three years for Marona, who also claimed to suffer a similar injury during his tenure at St. Francis.
The decision was difficult for Marona, who feels he’s close to 100% recovered from the concussion, but was already having memory and concentration problems and didn’t want to risk irreversible damage.
“That's not who I am,” Marona told Syracuse.com on Oct. 25. “I remember everything. There are things that I know are part of myself that I wasn't able to do anymore. That's what scared me into speaking up and saying, 'Something is really wrong here.’”