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Juniata WVB opens 2008 campaign with convincing win over Salisbury

(Posted August 29, 2008)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- It only took 61 minutes.

Some of it was the new scoring format for collegiate volleyball, playing to only 25 points. Part of it was the Juniata College women's volleyball team simply wearing down Salisbury University over the course of three increasingly lop-sided sets.

Regardless which factor you care to say was the bigger cause, in the end they both conspired to allow the Eagles to post a convincing 3-0 win over the Seagulls in both teams' 2008 season opener, Friday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center in Huntingdon, Pa.

Set scores were 25-18, 25-14, and 25-9, with all 18 players on the Juniata roster seeing time on the floor.

"We blocked well and got to see some depth," said Juniata head coach Larry Bock. "We literally have 15 people who could start. That's a complicated kind of scenario, but a nice one."

Senior Amber Thomas (Ephrata, Pa./Conestoga Valley) led Juniata with nine kills on 23 total attacks. Sophomore setter Steph Strauss (Penn Hills, Pa./Penn Hills) logged seven assists on eight total attacks for a .875 hitting percentage, in addition to setting the offense for a team high 15 assists.

Newcomer Collin Wallace (West Chester, Pa./West Chester East) gave the Eagles a lift with six kills on 14 swings, giving the outside hitter a .429 attack percentage.

"Collin hit the ball real well, and then eventually settled down with that little jump-float serve. She's talented - she can make a block look real bad, and that's what she did tonight. She just has the ability to find edges of the block. The other freshmen - Drew Barnhart, Amanda Schmidt, and Erin Bean - are also real talented, and we got to play them all tonight," said Bock.

Both Megan Sollenberger (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) and Beth Kozak (Huntingdon, Pa./Huntingdon Area) paced the Eagles in digs with 10 each. Three different players recorded a pair of blocks in Juniata's 6.0 team block effort, and Jessica Ritchey (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) rounded out the Eagle statistical leaders with three service aces.

Salisbury was paced by senior outside hitter Stacey Krebs, who tallied four kills on the night. Sophomore middle blocker Alexandria Malesick recorded three kills, while Jaime Marzocchi set 14 assists for the Seagulls. Junior libero Gabby Long logged a game-high 14 digs. The Seagulls hit just .039 for the match, proving unable to get past a Juniata defensive that turned up 50 digs.

"Salisbury is a really good team," said Bock. "They struggled a little bit in games two and three, but they'll have a good year. That's an NCAA Tournament team."

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the game was it was the first for Juniata with the new 25-point scoring format, which Bock said completely alters the way teams must approach each set.

"It's a different game," declared Bock. "Starting fast is important, and I don't know how you coach starting fast except to start with your best rotations. We're going to collect a lot of data over the next few weeks and find out what our strongest rotations are. Rather than go for blocking matchups, as we would in longer games, we'll find out what our best rotations are and start there."

The Juniata-Salisbury game was the opener of the three-game Asics Round Robin Games, which also includes Stevens Institute. Salisbury and Stevens will play the opening doubleheader on Saturday, Aug. 30, at 11:00 a.m., followed by Juniata versus Stevens at 3:00 p.m. Both games will take place in the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center in Huntingdon.

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