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Eagles Earn Five Spots On EIVA Division III All-Star Team

(Posted May 9, 2006)

Nate Ocasio joined four of his teammates as members of the 2006 EIVA Division III All-Star Team. Juniata\'s five honorees te most of any of the teams in the EIVA.

Huntingdon, PA - The Juniata College men's volleyball team officially put a wrap on the 2006 season as the Eagles placed five players on the EIVA Division III All-Star Team. Juniors Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) and Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) and freshman Matt Werle (Meadville/Meadville) were all selected to the first team, while senior Cordt Withum (Penn Manor/Holtwood) and sophomore Matt Fritz (John Carroll/Churchville, Md.) claimed second-team honors. The EIVA Division III All-Star Team consists of a seven-player first and second team and is made up of the top Division III players from the EIVA.

Barndt claims EIVA Division III All-Star status for the second time in his career. The junior middle hitter was selected as the team's most valuable player as he ranked in the top-three on the team in kills, hitting percentage, blocks and aces. He led the Eagles with his 112 blocks, which ranked as a career high, and was also tops on the team with a .388 hitting percentage. He finished the season with 248 kills which ranked third on the team, and his 25 aces were a career high and ranked second on the squad. Barndt was also selected as a Division III All-American and an EIVA All-East performer following his junior year.

Ocasio recovered from an off-season ailment to return as one of Juniata's most effective offensive players. He knocked out 275 kills despite missing the early part of the season, and led Juniata with an average of 4.30 kills per game. He finished the year second n the team in overall kills while ranking fourth in serve aces. His .266 hitting percentage is third-best on the team and he led the Eagles in points per game during the year. Ocasio established a new career high with 32 kills as Juniata defeated NYU in the EIVA Division III championship match and he also was recognized as an EIVA All-East performer.

Werle earns Division III All-Star status in his first year of collegiate volleyball. Juniata's setter was the only freshman chosen for the 14-player team. In his first season, he passed out a team-high 1,108 assists, and helped Juniata hit .259 as a team. He also led the team with 39 serve aces, and also ranked in the top-five in blocks and digs. He was third on the team with 76 blocks and ranked fourth with 119 digs. Eleven times during the season he passed out at least 50 assists while he had at least three blocks on 15 occasions. Werle was picked as an AVCA Division III All-American in his freshman year and saw action in 100 of Juniata's 103 games over the course of the year.

Withum captures second-team recognition after earning first-team All-Star status following his junior campaign. One of the most productive middles in Juniata history, he led the Eagles in solo blocks in his final season and was second on the team with 110 blocks overall. He was also second with a .309 hitting percentage and finished the year with 168 kills, the fifth-highest total on the team. Withum closed his career with 366 blocks, the third-highest total in school history. He also knocked out 617 kills over his four-year career, and record a stellar .380 career hitting percentage.

Fritz is another Juniata player earning EIVA Division III All-Star recognition for the first time in his career. After seeing limited action in his freshman season, he emerged as one of Juniata's top offensive threats in 2006. He established new career highs in every statistical category, including his 307 kills which led the Juniata team. He finished in the top three on the team in both aces and digs as he notched career bests with 25 aces and 141 digs. He also contributed 62 blocks, which was the fourth-best total on the team. His season also saw him earn EIVA Division III Player of the Week honors twice, and had him claim All-America recognition for the first time in his career.

Juniata closed the 2006 season with a 14-13 record, marking the fourth-consecutive year the Eagles have finished above .500. Juniata earned its third-consecutive Molten Division III National Championship, becoming just the second program in the history of the event to claim three-straight titles. Juniata also reached the quarterfinals of the EIVA Tournament for the fourth-straight season.

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