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Volleyball Makes History With National Championship

(Posted April 14, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - The Juniata College men\'s volleyball team made history in the most dramatic fashion possible as the Eagles rallied from a two-game deficit to claimed a 3-2 victory over Carthage College in the championship match of the 2007 Molten Division III Men\'s Invitational Volleyball Championship. The second-seed Eagles become the first team to win the Molten Championship four-consecutive seasons, and now have won five Molten titles overall which also ranks as the most in the 11-year history of the event. Tournament MVP Matt Werle matched his career high by passing out 71 assists and helped Juniata hit .298 as a team as the Eagles overcame a two-game deficit to win by scores of 26-30, 28-30, 30-24, 30-28 and 15-11. Jeremy Barndt and Nate Ocasio earned All-Tournament Team honors for Juniata (16-8). Carthage (25-8) placed Matt Ulmer and Shane Olson on the All-Tournament Team as the Red Men reached the Molten Championship match for the second time in just three years as a varsity program. AJ Nally of Springfield and Scott Stoner of Stevens Institute of Technology also claimed spots on the All-Tournament Team. T.J. Bellei paced the Carthage attack with 16 kills, while Olson and Juri Veldre both had 15. Rob Koehler was also in double figures with 11 finishes. The Red Men hit .333 and .293 in the first two games, but did not top .267 in games three, four or five. Ulmer dished out 54 assists in the match while also bringing up 13 digs. Ryan Baumgartner led Carthage with 16 dgs, and Olson also had 13. Koehler led all players with six blocks. After coming all the way back to force the fifth game, Juniata pulled in front early behind a kill from Fritz and a double block from Ocasio and Gass. Carthage roared back, eventually pulling within a point at 9-8 after a kill and an ace from Olson. Consecutive kills from Ocasio and Barndt pushed Juniata\'s lead to three. The Red Men answered again with a Bellei finish making the score 11-10 in favor of Juniata. DeHaven responded with a kill and the Eagles finally earned the win on Barndt\'s 22nd kill Carthage started slowly in game one, but the top seed used a late spurt to take control and win the game. The Red Men held a 16-13 lead but then got a pair of blocks, one a solo stuff from Barndt and one a double from Barndt and DeHaven to even the score at 16. The teams traded points before a Fritz kill and an attack error gave Juniata a 22-20 cushion. Carthage then turned up its blocking as the Red Men got three blocks on four points to open up a 29-25 lead. Koehler combined with Olson twice and Veldre once on the blocks and then got the kill to seal the game. The Red Men showed their resiliency again in game two as they fought off a late Juniata comeback to earn the win. Carthage led by as many as four points in the early going, and held a 20-16 edge after a Koehler kill. But the Red Men weathered the surge taking the lead back 27-26 on an ace from Russo. The teams traded points to tie the score at 28 but a serve error and attack error gave Carthage the 30-28 win. Juniata extended the match by taking the lead midway through game three and then holding on for the win. A kill from Fritz gave Juniata a 12-11 advantage which the Blue and Gold would not relinquish. The lead grew to five at 23-18 on a double block from Werle and Gass followed by another Fritz kill. Koehler and Veldre combined for a block that pulled Carthage within three at 26-23, but two late attack errors from Carthage sent the match into a fourth game. The Eagles forced the decisive game five by pulling away down the stretch in a tight game four. Neither team held a lead of more than two points until Juniata strung together three-straight points helped by a Fritz ace to take a 23-20 lead. The Eagles maintained that edge, getting to game point after a kill from Gass. Carthage pulled back within a point at 29-28 but Ocasio sent it to the final frame with a kill. Now in its 11th year, the championship was formed due to a need for a culminating event for Division III menâ??s volleyball. While the NCAA sponsors a national championship for menâ??s volleyball, programs from all three divisions compete for just four berths in the yearly tournament. In the 36-year history of the menâ??s tournament, no Division III program has been selected to participate in the NCAA National Collegiate Menâ??s Volleyball Championship. Molten U.S.A., Inc. is the \"Official Volleyball of the Molten Division III Menâ??s Invitational Volleyball Championship,\" as well as the \"Official ball of the AVCA.\" Sports Imports is the \"Official Net System Supplier of the Molten Division III Menâ??s Invitational Volleyball Championship.\" Mizuno USA is the \"Official Apparel & Shoe Sponsor of the Division III Menâ??s Invitational Volleyball Championship.\" ###

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