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Juniata men's volleyball stuns 14th-ranked Division I George Mason, 3-1

(Posted February 19, 2009)

FAIRFAX, Va. -- The Juniata College men's volleyball team cruised into George Mason University and proceeded to upend the Patriots 3-1, in an EIVA Tait Division matchup Thursday night. Set scores were 34-32, 28-30, 30-20, and 30-28.

The win was Juniata's first over a team ranked in the Bison/AVCA Division I-II poll since March 2, 2005, when the Eagles logged a 3-2 win over a 13th-ranked George Mason squad.

Juniata (6-3, 3-2 EIVA Tait) was led by junior outside hitter Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) with 30 kills on 59 swings for a .359 attack percentage, while Craig Harvey (Beverly, Mass./St. Johns Prep) and Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) tallied 13 and 10 kills respectively. Senior middle Dan Powers (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) logged nine kills on 17 swings without making a single error, for a team-high .529 attack percentage. Powers also recorded a team high five total blocks.

Senior setter Matt Werle (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) set the offense with 58 assists, while three players recorded double-digit dig totals, led by junior Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) with 15.

"This is a great win for us," said Juniata head coach Jeremy Price. "Zach (Wanner) had an incredible performance tonight, and Craig Harvey gave us everything you could ask from someone coming off the bench."

"Hopefully we can keep this same level of intensity tomorrow night when we play Princeton," said Price.

George Mason (5-3, 1-1 EIVA Tait), ranked 14th in the Bison/AVCA Division I coaches poll coming into the match, was paced by Kyle Gramit's 17 kills with Ben Nichols chipping in with 16. The Patriots amassed 15.5 total team blocks, with Nichols and Brandon McLaughlin each recording six total blocks.

The Eagles had to survive an extra-play first set, after failing to put the Patriots away at 29-28 with Werle serving. A Nichols kill knotted the set at 29-29, and a string of seven straight side out points left Juniata still holding the lead at 33-32. Juniata finally notched the set one victory on a Gramit attack error, with Dan Follett (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) and Halteman getting credit for the block.

Juniata threatened to take set two as well, as the Eagles erased a 28-23 deficit with four straight points, including three off the serve of Mike Kraft (York, Pa./Eastern York). Luke Maloney's kill put GMU on set point, and the Patriots took the set two plays later on a kill by McLaughlin.

The Eagles used a 9-2 run midway through the third set to cruise to the easy win, as Juniata took advantage of 10 George Mason attack errors and four service errors. Juniata then pulled away from GMU over the course of the fourth set, eventually putting away the win with a Halteman kill after five attempts at match point.

Juniata closes out the two-match EIVA Tait Division road trip when it faces Princeton University on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in Princeton, N.J.

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Article last edited on Feb. 23, 2009.

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