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Men's volleyball shocks #13 Ohio State, 3-2

(Posted March 4, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College was 1-21 all-time against Ohio State heading into Wednesday night's men's volleyball matchup against the Buckeyes. The Eagles ended the day having doubled that win total.

Juniata outblocked and outhit Ohio State, and sent the Buckeyes home from the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center with a 3-2 loss. Set scores for Juniata were 28-30, 30-23, 30-28, 27-30, and 15-12.

The win over Ohio State, ranked 13th in this week's Bison/AVCA Division I-II poll and an NCAA tournament national semifinalist a year ago, was Juniata's (9-4) second over a Division I-II ranked team in the last two weeks.

Juniata's only other win over Ohio State was back in 1993, the program's fourth year of existence, when the Eagles notched a 3-2 win over the Buckeyes. Wednesday night's win ended a 14-match losing streak to Ohio State, including a 3-0 loss earlier this season in Columbus.

"Anytime we beat a team like Ohio State, its obviously one of the bigger wins in our program's history," said Juniata head coach Jeremy Price. "To beat them for only the second time - first time in the rally scoring-era - is a huge accomplishment for this team."

Junior outside hitter Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) celebrated his 21st birthday by recording a team-high 19 kills. Junior middle Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) and senior middle Dan Powers (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) had 18 and 11 kills respectively, while sophomore outside hitter Dan Follett (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) tacked on eight kills.

Halteman and Powers did most of their damage in the final three sets of the match, after combining for just six kills over the first two sets.

Senior setter Matt Werle (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) logged 60 set assists for Juniata (9-4), while junior libero Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) turned up 10 digs. Juniata hit .338 for the match and chalked up 10 service aces, with Wanner leading the Eagles with four service aces.

Juniata outblocked Ohio State 13.5 to 7.5, with the Werle leading the Eagles with five total blocks.

Ohio State (7-8) was led by Ted Schoenfeldt with 26 kills, while Robbie Klein and Kevin Heine had 13 kills each.

"When we played them the first time, they outblocked us and outserved us, and tonight we did a really good job of taking those advantages away from them," said Price. "We outblocked them, we doubled them in aces and missed less serves in doing that, and I think that was a really big advantage for us."

Juniata jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the decisive fifth set, thanks largely to a pair of kills by Wanner. After three straight side out points, the Buckeyes chipped into the Eagle lead on a Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./Ambridge Area) attack error, but a Halteman kill followed by a Vrooman ace put Juniata back in front by three, 7-4.

The Eagles maintained at least two points of separation the rest of the way in the fifth set. Juniata and Ohio State traded side out points for the last nine points of the set, with a Halteman kill off a Werle set giving Juniata the victory.

"Matt Werle was brilliant, especially from the second set on," said Price. "He was doing a good job of scanning and seeing what the Ohio State block was giving us, and then taking what they were giving us."

"Our middles weren't involved in the first two sets, but then they came on in sets three, four, and five. For our middles to finish hitting .600 and .474 with a combined 29 kills is big, and for Zach Wanner to hit .302 with 19 kills is huge," said Price.

Juniata will return to action on Tuesday, March 10, when it faces the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.

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