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Volleyball Withstands Comeback Attempt

(Posted April 13, 2006)

On senior night, Matt Springer pounded out 14 kills while adding five digs and four blocks as Juniata topped Mercyhurst.

Juniata 3, Mercyhurst 2

HUNTINGDON, Pa. ? The Juniata College men?s volleyball team found a way to win Thursday night as the Eagles outlasted visiting Mercyhurst College 3-2 in non-conference action in Huntingdon. The win was Juniata?s fifth-consecutive triumph and moved the Eagles to 13-11 overall while the Lakers dropped to 3-20 on the season.

After the Eagles claimed a marathon win in game one, the Blue and Gold claimed a relatively smooth game two win. But Mercyhurst rebounded winning games three and four before the Eagles earned the victory in the fifth game. Juniata claims the victory by scores of 35-33, 30-22, 20-30, 25-30, 15-12.

Juniata jumped out quickly in game five, as early service aces from Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) and Glenn DeHaven (Walt Whitman/South Huntington, N.Y.) put Juniata in front 6-3. Mercyhurst fought back eventually cutting the lead to one at 10-9, before Juniata closed the game on a 5-3 run to post the victory. A kill from Matt Werle (Meadville/Meadville) sealed the victory.

Juniata led for most of game one, and held a 29-25 edge before Mercyhurst ripped off four-straight points to tie the score at 29. A kill from Ocasio halted the run but the Lakers counted on a Ben Van Balen ace to have a chance at game point. The Eagles fought off the game point and finally closed the game with a block from Ocasio, Cordt Withum (Penn Manor/Holtwood) and Matt Fritz (John Carroll/Churchville, Md.) to earn the win.

Juniata took that momentum and cruised through game two. An ace from Werle highlighted a 6-0 run that gave Juniata a 19-13 lead and the Eagles never looked back, closing the game on a kill from Ocasio.

Game?s three and four were then all Mercyhurst as the visitors led most of the way in both games. The Lakers hit .400 as a team in game three and used three consecutive kills from Nate Keegan to take control mid-ay through the game. The visitors then limited Juniata to a .091 hitting percentage in game four to help send the match to a decisive fifth game.

Ocasio led Juniata with 17 kills in the match as he was one of four Eagles to reach double figures in kills. Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) notched 15 finishes, while Fritz added 13. Playing in their final regular-season home matches Juniata seniors Matt Springer (William Allen/Allentown) and Withum had 14 and eight kills respectively, while Withum led the Eagles with six blocks. Werle passed out 55 assists in the match for Juniata, while leading the team with two aces and eight digs. Casey Dale (Cochranton/Cochranton) also finished with eight digs for the Blue and Gold.

Keegan led all players in the match with 18 kills. Tim Wagner was also in double figures with 15 finishes in the match. Dan Kick handed out 45 assists for the Lakers while also leading all players with nine blocks and adding 10 digs. Jordan Pierson paced the team with 11 digs.

Juniata will close out its regular season on Saturday with an EIVA Tait Division match at George Mason.

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