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Volleyball Nearly Topples DI Foe

(Posted March 3, 2006)

Nate Ocasio pounded out a season-high 18 kills for Juniata in a match against Division I Ohio State.

Ohio State 3, Juniata 2

COLUMBUS, Ohio ? In its sixth match of the season against a nationally-ranked Division I foe the Juniata College men?s volleyball team came as close as possible to pulling off an upset, but fell just short as the Blue and Gold dropped a 3-2 decision at 11th-ranked Ohio State in Columbus Friday night. The loss dropped Juniata to 6-8 on the season, while Ohio State improved to 13-4.

The Eagles earned wins in the first two games, but could not finish off the home team, eventually falling by scores of 27-30, 26-30, 30-23, 30-28, 15-7.

Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) finished with a season-high 18 kills for the Eagles who jumped out to a big early lead in game one, as an Ocasio kill put Juniata in front 16-10. The Buckeyes rallied to tie the score at 25, before Juniata scored five of the final seven points to earn the win.

Game two was nip-and-tuck most of the, with neither team holding an edge of more than three points until late in the game. With the score tied at 20, Juniata ripped off four-straight points, highlighted by an Ocasio kill that put the Eagles in front and propelled them to the 30-26 win.

A pair of long runs were the difference in game four as the Buckeyes put together two 4-0 runs that put the home team in front 19-10 en route to the 30-23 win.

Juniata?s best chance to close the match came in game four as a late comeback had them in position for a win. After trailing by as many as five points, Juniata rallied to tie the score at 21 and then took a 23-21 lead, forcing an Ohio State timeout. But the home team came out strong after the timeout, getting kills from Stuart Katz, Matthew Hankey and Daniel Mathews to surge back in front. The teams traded sideouts before another Hankey kill closed the game.

Then in the decisive game five, early kills from Ocasio and Matt Fritz (John Carroll/Churchville, Md.) helped Juniata stay closed, but a double block from Mathews and Laynce Dreven sparked a run that put the home team on top 11-5. A kill from Glenn DeHaven (Walt Whitman/South Huntington, N.Y.) halted the run, but the Buckeyes closed it out on their 17th block of the match.

Ocasio led all players with his 17 kills, while DeHaven chipped in 14 and Fritz added 12. DeHaven and Fritz both registered a double-double with 11 and 10 digs respectively, while Steve Yeager (Hempfield/East Petersburg) paced the team with 15 digs. Matt Werle (Meadville/Meadville) finished with 56 assists in the match, while Cordt Withum (Penn Manor/Holtwood) and Dan Powers (Manheim Township/Lancaster) each had two blocks.

John Albertson led the home team with 17 kills and a .727 hitting percentage in the match and a match-high 11 blocks. Robbie Klein added 12 while Dreven and Hankey both notched 11. Mathews passed out 61 assists in the contest. Four Buckeyes reached double figures in digs, with Katz leading the way with 16.

Juniata will be out of action over the next week before returning to the court March 18 with a match at Princeton.

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