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Nate Ocasio Picked As Division III Player of the Week

(Posted March 20, 2006)

Nate Ocasio enjoyed a pair of strong performances en route to earning Division III Player of the Week honors.

Huntingdon, PA - Juniata College junior men's volleyball player Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) has been selected as the AVCA/Sports Imports Division III National Player of the Week for his efforts in a pair of matches for the Eagles. It is the first time that Ocasio has been selected for the national award, and marks the second time this season that a member of the Juniata men's volleyball team has earned the honor.

Ocasio posted one of his finest all-around matches of the season this past week. He pounded out a team-best 15 kills with a season-high .455 hitting percentage as the top-ranked Eagles defeated New York, the team currently ranked second in Division III. He also produced six digs, two blocks and an ace in the three-game victory. That performance came just one day after Ocasio notched a season-best 22 kills in a five-game match against Division I Princeton. He also brought up a career-high 12 digs in the match, giving him his second career double-double, and his first of the season. He added three aces and three blocks in the match. For the week he finished with 37 kills and a .388 hitting percentage, while piling up 18 digs, five blocks and four aces. He averaged 5.44 points per game on the week, nearly an entire point above his season average.

"Nate's return to the team has made us better both with his physical presence, but also his emotional presence," Juniata Head Men's Volleyball Coach Ken Shibuya said. "He brings a tremendous amount to our team, and his recent play has been an example of that. It's truly special for Nate to win an award like this after everything he's been through, and it shows what belief and hard work can do."

After earning Division III All-America recognition in his first year as a starter in 2005, Ocasio was stricken with a life-threatening illness in the summer of 2005. But he has come back to be a major factor for Juniata. After missing the first month of the season he still ranks fourth on the team in kills, and is tops on the squad in kills per game. His per game averages in digs and aces are also among the team leaders.

With Ocasio back in the lineup Juniata has a record of 7-9 on the season and has held the top spot in the CSTV/AVCA Division III Men's Top 15 poll in all but one week. The Eagles will return to action Friday with a match at Division III rival Springfield College (Mass.).

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