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No.1 Juniata volleyball falls to no. 2 Emory

(Posted October 31, 2008)

ATLANTA -- The top-ranked Juniata College women's volleyball team dropped its first game to a ranked Division III opponent this season with a 3-0 loss to no. 2 Emory University, Friday night in Atlanta, Ga., at the Emory National Challenge.

Set scores were 25-16, 25-23, and 25-22.

Juniata (27-4) was led by Kristin Noetzel (Closter, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) with nine kills on 16 swings for a .438 hitting percentage, while Amber Thomas (Ephrata, Pa./Conestoga Valley) and Cassie Dickmann (Kennett Square, Pa./Unionville) had seven kills each.

Defensively, Megan Sollenberger (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) turned up 15 digs for the Eagles, while Noetzel, Steph Strauss (Penn Hills, Pa./Penn Hills) and Paige Johnston (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) all had two total blocks. Strauss set 11 assists for the Eagles, while Beth Kozak (Huntingdon, Pa./Huntingdon Area) had 17 assists.

"Neither team played great volleyball, but there was a little more energy on their side of the net," said Juniata head coach Larry Bock. "We got outplayed, and it was a pretty simple equation - we just came out of the blocks very slow."

Emory (26-4) went on a 7-2 run starting at 9-9 to take command of set one, but Juniata used a pair of Emory attack errors and a Johnston kill to pull to within two points, 16-14. Emory responded by collecting the next three points, including two off Juniata errors, and closed out the set with back-to-back kills by Amelia McCall and Dani Huffman.

Juniata again had to close a large deficit to make a comeback and challenge Emory in set two. Down 14-9 after consecutive attack errors, Juniata fought its way back into the set and trailed 20-19 after a block by Dickmann and Johnston, and a service ace by Jessica Ritchey (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim).

Emory took the next two points on a kill by Natalie Schonefeld and an attack error by Collin Wallace (West Chester, Pa./West Chester East), widening the lead to 22-19. The squads alternated side-out points to 24-22, when a Kozak ace trimmed the Emory advantage to 24-23. However Kozak had an error on her next serve, and Emory came away with the set two victory.

Juniata had a lead for most of the third set, reaching its widest at 15-9 after a Kozak ace and an attack error by Emory's Alysse Meyer. The Juniata advantage held at six points through 20-14, but Emory grabbed the lead on an 8-0 run off Meyer's service. Meyer had one service ace during the run, with Emory picking up four points on Juniata attack errors.

The score was 22-21 in Emory's favor when a Dickmann kill halted the Emory run; side out points by Emory's Amelia McCall and Juniata's Drew Barnhart (Titusville, Pa./Titusville) advanced the score to 23-22. Back to back kills by Emory's Huffman closed out the set, giving the Emory Eagles the three-set victory.

McCall and Huffman each had nine kills for Emory, who hit .159 for the game to Juniata's .080 attack percentage. Emory recorded 15 team blocks, led by Kaitlin Westfall with six total blocks.

"We'll regroup from here - we have to face two good teams here tomorrow, so this will be a good test of our recovery," said Bock.

Juniata faces Lee University at Noon on Saturday, followed by Birmingham-Southern College at 3:00 p.m.

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