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Juniata WVB survives early scare from Stevens on its way to a victory

(Posted August 30, 2008)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- In case they had forgotten, the Juniata College women's volleyball team was reminded on Saturday afternoon that there is no transitive property in sports.

After cruising past Salisbury University in Friday night's opener of the Asics Round Robin games, then watching Salisbury post a win over Stevens Institute of Technology in Saturday morning's matchup at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center, the Eagles might have been expecting an easier time in Saturday afternoon's contest against the Ducks.

However Stevens upended Juniata 25-22 in the first set, before the Eagles rallied to take the next three and notch the 3-1 win. Scores for all four sets were 22-25, 25-26, 25-14, and 25-17.

"I think its important against any good team that Juniata is ready to play, and I'm not sure we were ready to play in that first set. But by the end, serving was a definite factor with our nine aces - you've got to figure we get nine aces and we're doing pretty good - and we had nine team blocks, which is a positive also," said Juniata head coach Larry Bock.

The Eagles aided Stevens with 10 attack errors and two service errors in the first set. After trailing by as many as six points at 16-10, Juniata briefly held a lead at 21-19 following a block by Steph Strauss (Penn Hills, Pa./Penn Hills) and Erin Albert (Philipsburg, Pa./Philipsburg-Osceola). Stevens won the next five points, three by Juniata attack errors, to get to set point, where the Ducks' Maggie Majcher eventually clinched the win.

Amber Thomas (Ephrata, Pa./Conestoga Valley) notched four of her game-high 13 kills in the second set, helping Juniata rebound and even the game. The Eagles scored five straight points, including four by kills, to end the set, with Michelle Morchesky (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield Area) recording the final two kills.

Morchesky picked up six more kills in set three, on her way to a 10-kill performance for the game.

"Michelle Morchesky was just great today. She did that hardest of all things: she came off the bench and lit it up. This was Morchesky's match," said Bock. "Morchesky and Thomas played simply great in sets two, three and four."

Juniata capped the comeback with a late run in set four to seal the win. The Eagles rattled off six straight points from 17-13, with three points off back-to-back-to-back kills by Thomas. A service error by Stevens' Jessica Gardner followed by another Thomas kill ended the game.

For its part, Stevens attacked the Juniata middle blockers all game long, with Summer Hamilton finished with seven kills on 19 swings for a .316 attack percentage. Majcher and Sarah Byrne each recorded six kills, while Melissa Rhode set the offense with 22 assists. Byrne and Melanie Volk each had 10 digs for the Ducks.

For the game, however, Stevens was held to just .073 hitting and just 3.0 team blocks.

The Eagles recorded 9.0 team blocks on their side of the net, a benchmark they reached in fewer than half their matches in 2007, with Thomas leading with three total blocks.

Megan Sollenberger (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) had a game-high 16 digs to go with four service aces, while Strauss set 21 assists for the Eagles. Jessica Ritchey (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) also served three aces for the Eagles with 11 digs.

"It was a good win," said Bock. "Stevens played us tough, and we had to respond, use a lot of people, and get some good productivity."

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