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Eagles Volleyball Drops Tight Match to Third-Ranked Team

(Posted March 30, 2005)

Sophomore Jeremy Barndt notched 12 kills with a .556 hitting percentage and also had five blocks as Juniata took on Division I Penn State.

Penn State 3, Juniata 1

Huntingdon, Pa. ? The Juniata College men?s volleyball got off to the start is was looking for in its match against EIVA rival Penn State Wednesday night in Huntingdon, but the Eagles could not keep the momentum going as they fell to the third-ranked visitors by a 3-1 score. Juniata falls to 13-7 overall and 7-4 in the EIVA Tait with the loss, while Penn State ups its record to 23-3 on the year and 9-0 in the conference.

Riding the energy from the hometown crowd, Juniata pulled in front with a 30-24 win in game one. But the visitors took the next three games by scores of 30-14, 30-25 and 30-24 to earn the win.

After the Eagles pulled to an early lead, game one quickly tightened up as the score was tied at 16 after a Penn State kill. Juniata answered with three-straight kills from Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) to pull in front 19-16. Juniata would not relinquish the lead, though the visitors pulled within two on four occasions. An ace from Nick Bernardo (Christopher Dock/Lansdale) pushed Juniata?s lead to 24-21 and a Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) kill closed the game.

Penn State rebounded with a dominating effort in game two. A kill from Kevin Wentzel brought the visitors? lead to 20-8. Another kill from Wentzel sealed the 30-14 win.

The pivotal game three was tight throughout. Juniata took an early 10-7 edge on an Ocasio kill, and would hold the lead until a solo block from Nate Meerstein tied the game at 15. The teams exchanged points for several plays until a three-point Nittany Lion run gave the visitors a 20-17 edge. Glenn DeHaven (Walt Whitman/South Huntington, N.Y.) stopped the run and Juniata would fight back to within two points at 24-22 with a double block from Withum and DeHaven. Penn State then pulled away as they scored six of the game?s final nine points to earn the win.

Game four played out in similar fashion as Juniata hung with Penn State for most of the game. Setter Ricky Ziegler?s (Northeastern/Manchester) kill cut a Penn State lead to one at 19-18. With the score then 21-19 Penn State after a Withum kill, Juniata surrendered a 5-2 run that gave the visitors a five-point edge. The Eagles got no closer than four the rest of the way.

Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) led Juniata as he posted a team-high 13 kills. Barndt was also in double figures with 12 finishes. Ziegler passed out 43 assists for Juniata, and matched Withum and Barndt with a team-best five blocks. Tim Cole (Pennsbury/Yardley) brought up five digs to pace the Eagle defense.

For Penn State Matt Proper led all players with 21 kills with Meerstein chipping in 17. Dan O?Dell fished out 47 assists to direct the Penn State offense. Meerstein led all players with eight blocks in the match, and Gary Vogel finished with 11 digs for the Nittany Lions.

Juniata will close out its regular season on Friday when the Eagles play at Division III rival Springfield College.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.