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Juniata Women's Volleyball Team Attains NCAA Semifinals for 17th Straight Year

(Posted November 26, 2001)

Huntingdon, PA - For the 17th time in the history of the Juniata College women's volleyball program, the squad is headed into the NCAA Division III semifinals/finals. After placing fourth in the nation the past three years, the Eagles will travel to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater looking to grab their first-ever national championship in the program's 25th year of existence.

This year's semifinals/finals round will be held the weekend of November 30 - December 1. The Eagles (29-8) will square off against LaVerne (CA) ("Lady Leos") (25-1) at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on Friday, November 30 in one semifinal, while Wellesley (MA) (27-4) will take on host Wisconsin-Whitewater ("Warhawks") (34-2) in the other semifinal tilt at 8:30 p.m. (EST). The winners will play for the national championship at 8:30 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, December 1, while the losers will compete for third-place at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on the same day. Ticket prices for each day's entrance to Gym #4 in the Williams Center are adults-$4, students with identification-$3 and children under 12-$2. Both Juniata matches will be broadcast live on WKVR (92.3 FM) with Bub Parker and Mark Pavlik on the call. In addition, the matches will be audio streamed via Real Player over the Juniata College web page (www.juniata.edu).

As expected at this time of year, the semifinals will be a gathering of top-notch teams. The Eagles were ranked sixth in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III poll, while Wis-Whitewater was first for the second straight year at the end of the ranking schedule. In addition, LaVerne was eighth and Wellesley was 18th. Although there will be plenty of talent from this year's teams in the gym for the two-day weekend, each squad also has a rich tradition. In addition to Juniata making its NCAA Division III 17th trip to the semifinals/finals, Wis-Whitewater will be in the midst of its fourth journey, Wellesley will be making its second trip and LaVerne will be making its fourth in the grouping of four.

Juniata earned its 17th trip to the semifinals in program history by defeating second-ranked Trinity University (TX) on the road, 3-1, on Saturday night in the NCAA quarterfinal round. LaVerne downed Mount Saint Joseph, 3-0, Wis-Whitewater got past national power Washington (MO), 3-2, and Wellesley sneaked by Nazareth, 3-2.

The Eagles are the only team that has received invitations to the NCAA Division III tournament in every year it has been in existence (a span of 21 years). Of the 20 NCAA championships contested, only one has been claimed by the participants in this year's semifinals/finals round. LaVerne posted a 3-1 win over California-San Diego back in 1982 to post its lone national title in women's volleyball action. Although Juniata has never claimed an NCAA championship, the Eagles have been the runner up two of the past five years and have taken second four times overall. Wis-Whitewater was the runner-up to Central last winter and has a third- and fourth-place finish to its credit in the NCAA semifinals/finals round. Wellesley placed third at Juniata in 1998, while LaVerne has been second once and third two times.

Juniata and LaVerne have never crossed paths in the NCAA playoffs, and neither have Wis-Whitewater and Wellesley. LaVerne has participated in the national tournament for 15 years (1982-92, 96-97, 2000-01), while Wis-Whitewater has been in the NCAA playoffs 13th times (1986-89, 1992-2001). Wellesley first appeared in the NCAAs in 1991, and has made six showings, including 1997 through this year.

Coach Larry Bock, the only mentor the Juniata program has ever had, is in his 25th season at the helm and owns a 923-158 career record. He has guided the Eagles to a Division III best 84 NCAA playoff matches played and playoff matches won (57).

The Eagles are led this fall by sophomore outside hitter Danielle Hart (Central/Roaring Spring, who is averaging 4.02 kills per game to go with her .276 hitting percentage and team-best 68 service aces. Senior captain and outside hitter Brandy Workinger (Dallastown/Dallastown) is averaging 3.83 kills and a team-best 3.87 digs an outing. Junior middle hitter Niki Mueller (Bishop Guilfoyle/Altoona) owns 99 rejections and is hitting a club-high .336 for the season. Freshman setter Carli Dale (Cochranton/Cochranton) is distributing 13.10 assists a game, while sophomore outside hitter Johanna Holtan (Fargo North/Fargo, MD) is posting 3.60 digs and 2.30 kills a showing.

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