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Men's volleyball falls at home to defending national champion Penn State

(Posted March 24, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College turned in its best hitting performance against Penn State in over two years, but it wasn't quite enough firepower to take down the defending national champion Nittany Lions as Juniata men's volleyball fell to Penn State, 3-0, Tuesday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

Set scores were 30-24, 30-25, and 30-26.

Juniata (10-7, 4-4 EIVA Tait) hit .235 for the match against Penn State, its best attack percentage versus the Nittany Lions since hitting .239 in a match at Rec Hall on February 6, 2007.

However the Nittany Lions hit .446 against the Eagles, and tallied 50 points on kills to Juniata's 37. Penn State also recorded 35 digs to Juniata's 16.

Junior outside hitter Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) led Juniata with 10 kills, while middles Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) and Dan Powers (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) had nine and seven kills respectively, and each hit .500 or better. Powers led Juniata at the net with five total blocks, while Halteman was the Eagles' digs leader with five.

Senior Matt Werle (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) set the offense with 31 assists.

Penn State (18-3, 8-0 EIVA Tait) had two players finish with double-digit kill totals, led by Ryan Sweitzer with 15 kills while hitting .478 for the match. Will Price tallied 13 kills for the Nittany Lions. Edgardo Goas set 44 assists for Penn State, while Dennis Del Valle and Jay Stauffer turned up 10 digs.

The first two sets were neck-and-neck most of the way, with Penn State pulling away in the very late stages of the set in both cases.

In set one, Juniata was tied with Penn State as late as 20-20, when the Nittany Lions created some separation on a Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./Ambridge Area) service error following by back-to-back kills by Sweitzer. The Eagles got back to within two points of the Nittany Lions following a Werle kill, cutting the deficit to 23-21, and five side-out points later PSU still had a 26-23 lead. A block by the Lions' Will Price and a Wanner attack error stretched Penn State's lead to 28-23, and, after the teams traded side out points, the Nittany Lions closed out the set on a Halteman attack error.

In the second set, the Eagles were tied with the Nittany Lions at 25-25, when Penn State closed out the set with five straight points off Sweitzer's serve. Max Holt had a pair of terminations for the Lions while Goas logged one kill during PSU's final run.

Penn State had a six point lead as early as 19-13 in the third set, but Juniata managed to claw its way back into the contest. The Eagles trailed by only three points at 28-25, following a Jay Stauffer service error and a Wanner kill. Juniata's Powers and Penn State's Holt each had service errors, as the teams exchanged side out points, before Nittany Lion reserve Jon Sherrick ended the set and the match with a kill.

Juniata continues EIVA Tait Division play this weekend with a pair of road matches. The Eagles will face archrival Springfield College on Friday, March 27, in a match with important EIVA and Molten Invitational ramifications, followed by an EIVA Tait contest at NJIT on Saturday, March 28.

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