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Juniata Volleyball Falls To Nationally Ranked DI Foe

(Posted February 24, 2006)

Nate Ocasio pounded out a season-high 14 kills for Juniata in a match against Division I opponent George Mason.

George Mason 3, Juniata 1

HUNTINGDON, Pa. ? A defensive surge from the visiting team near the conclusion of the decisive fourth game thwarted a Juniata College men?s volleyball comeback attempt as the Eagles dropped a 3-1 decision to visiting George Mason University in EIVA Tait Division action Friday night in Huntingdon.

Juniata fell by game scores of 30-26, 30-21, 24-30, 30-28 to drop to 5-6 on the season and 1-4 in the EIVA Tait. George Mason, currently ranked 14th in the CSTV/AVCA Division I-II Top-15 upped its record to 13-2 and are now 4-0 in Tait play.

After struggling in the first two games, the Eagles came out sharper in game three. With the score tied at 21, Juniata rolled off three-straight points, on a Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) kill and then a Glenn DeHaven (Walt Whitman/South Huntington, N.Y.) service ace. The visitors stopped the run with a Shaun Powell finish, only to have the Eagles score another pair of points, capped by a Zach Bock (Northeastern/Mount Wolf) that sparked Juniata to a 30-24 win.

Juniata seemed to be in position to send the match to a fifth game as a Cordt Withum (Penn Manor/Holtwood) kill, followed by consecutive attack errors from George Mason put Juniata in front 20-16. With Juniata still leading 23-21 lead George Mason turned up the defense, getting four double blocks on the next nine points, with the final one from Powell and Matt Steinfurth giving the visitors a 27-25 advantage. Juniata would rally to tie it at 28 after another Withum kill and an attack error, but a Eagles? service error and then a Kyle Gramit kill ended Juniata?s comeback hopes.

The visitors controlled the first two games, though it was Juniata that held a five-point lead late game one. Juniata was on top 21-16 after a Matt Fritz (John Carroll/Churchville, Md.) kill, but the visitors scored 10 of the next 14 points to take a 26-25 lead and then sealed the game with a Powell ace. Game two belonged to the Patriots as they led by as many as nine points and closed the 30-21 win with a double block from Steinfurth and Gramit.

Juniata was led offensively by Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) who posted a season-high 14 kills. Barndt was also in double figures with 11 finishes and posted a team-best four blocks. Bock came on in relief in game three and finished with 23 assists while tossing in a career-best four aces. Fritz also produced four aces for the Eagles. Steve Yeager (Hempfield/East Petersburg) led Juniata with 12 digs.

Powell led all players with 17 kills in the match, with Gramit chipping in 16. Bryan Newcomb dished out 39 assists in the contest. Steinfurth paced all players with five aces and Gramit was tops in the match with six blocks. Mark Burik reached double figures with 10 digs defensively for the Patriots.

Juniata gets back in action Saturday night with another EIVA Tait Division match as the Eagles welcome Division I foe Rutgers-Newark.

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