Eagles Outlasted By Saint Francis
(Posted March 29, 2006)
Saint Francis 3, Juniata 1
HUNTINGDON, Pa. ? The Juniata College men?s volleyball team hoped to go into its postseason match Friday night with a little bit of momentum, but visiting Saint Francis University did not cooperate as the Eagles were unable to hold on to an early lead and then saw their comeback attempt fall short as they fell to the Red Flash 3-1 in Huntingdon Wednesday night. The Eagles are now 8-11 on the year and 3-8 in the EIVA Tait Division, while Saint Francis improved to 12-8 on the year and 7-3 in Tait Division play.
Juniata jumped out to an early lead with a 30-27 win in game one, but then dropped the next three games by scored of 30-25, 30-25 and 35-33.
The Eagles looked poised to send the match to a final game as they raced to an early 8-1 lead after a Matt Fritz (John Carroll/Churchville, Md.) kill in game four. Saint Francis would rally, eventually tying the score at 15 before a Fritz ace helped bring Juniata?s lead back to four. The Red Flash fought back again, finally tying the score at 26 after a Juniata attack error. The team?s then traded points for 10-consecutive serves, with Juniata having three chances to win the game and extend the match. The visitors finally flipped the score after a Cory Spencer and Marc Honore double block made the score 32-31 in their favor. Consecutive kills by Fritz helped stave off two match-point chances, but the Red Flash finally sealed the match on a double block from Honore and Shane Conley.
Juniata held the advantage throughout game one, as an early Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) serving run put Juniata on top by two points early in the game. The game would go back-and-forth from there, with the visitors eventually taking a 21-20 lead on a Travis Fox kill. Juniata bounced back, taking the lead for good on a kill by Fritz and then getting late finishes from Fritz, Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) and Cordt Withum (Penn Manor/Holtwood) to take the first game.
Game two was tight in the early going, as a Matt Werle (Meadville/Meadville) service ace knotted the score at 19. The visitors then got back-to-back kills from Fox as part of a 3-0 run that gave Saint Francis a lead it would not relinquish as they claimed the 30-25 win.
In game three a serving run from Spencer midway through the game turned a slight Juniata edge into a 14-11 advantage for the visitors. The Eagles inched back into getting a kill from Barndt to pull within two before consecutive double blocks from Honore and Jim Fazzini sparked a four-point Saint Francis run that made the score 25-18 and helped put the game away.
The Eagles got a balanced offensive effort in the match as four players posted 10 or more kills. Ocasio and Fritz each finished with 15, while Barndt added 14 with an impressive .560 hitting percentage. Withum also chipped in 10 for the Eagles. Juniata topped Saint Francis in nearly every statistical category including kills, hitting percentage and blocks, but were unable to translate that into the win. Werle passed out 56 assist for the Blue and Gold and topped the team with a pair of aces. Steve Yeager (Hempfield/East Petersburg) brought up a team-high 14 digs, while Barndt led the squad with eight blocks.
Fazzini led all players with 18 kills in the match as Saint Francis also had four players reach double figures in kills. Honore finished with 14 finishes and a robust .600 hitting percentage, while also leading the team with eight blocks. Spencer added 13 kills with Fox contributing 11 finishes. Conley directed the Red Flash attack with 51 assists while adding a match-high three aces. He also tied Spencer for a team-best seven digs.
Juniata will be back in action on Friday as the Eagles host Vassar in the first round of the EIVA Division III Championship.
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