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Men's volleyball advances to Molten championship match with 3-0 win over Ramapo

(Posted April 17, 2009)

MAHWAH, N.J. -- The Juniata College men's volleyball team will compete for its sixth Molten Invitational title on Saturday night, after advancing to the championship match with a 3-0 win over host Ramapo College of New Jersey, in Friday night's second semifinal match at the Bill Bradley Sports and Recreation Center.

Set scores for Juniata were 30-20, 30-18, and 30-26.

Juniata (16-7) will face Stevens Institute of Technology in Saturday's championship, which starts at 8:00 p.m. The two teams met earlier this season in Huntingdon, Pa., with Juniata coming away with a 3-2 (30-21, 30-25, 25-30, 27-30, 21-19) victory over Stevens.

The Eagles will be making their seventh appearance in the Molten Invitational championship match, in 10 previous trips to the tournament.

Ramapo (25-8) will face the University of California-Santa Cruz in Saturday evening's consolation match.

Juniata was led Friday night by junior outside hitter Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) with 19 kills and four errors on 31 swings, for a .484 hitting percentage. Senior middle Dan Powers (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) also posted a double-digit kill total with 10 terminations, to with his four total blocks.

Senior setter Matt Werle (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) logged 46 assists while running a Juniata offense that operated at a coolly efficient .460 attack percentage - its highest team hitting percentage in a match this season. Junior libero Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) turned up 19 digs for the Eagles.

Ramapo hits just .207 for the match, and finished with just 28 digs to Juniata's 50. Tom Kohler led the Roadrunners with 16 kills, while Shane Donohue finished with 11 kills.

The third set was the most contested of the three, with Juniata having to rally from an deficit at 12-9. The Eagles slowly caught up with the Roadrunners, finally catching Ramapo at 16-16 on a kill by Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock). The lead seesawed all the to 22-22, when an attack error by Ramapo's Kohler allowed Juniata to take a 23-22 lead. A block by Halteman and Werle extended the Eagle lead to 24-22, but a sideout kill by Ramapo's Shane Donahue cut the deficit to 24-23.

Three straight points for Juniata - kills by Halteman and Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./Ambridge Area), around a TC Elsasser attack error - gave the Eagles a 27-23 lead. Six straight side out points eventually produced Juniata's set three win, with a Wanner kill on match point securing the win.

The Eagles won the first two sets of the match with runs at the tail end of the set.

In set one, Juniata recorded six of the last seven points of the set, with kills by Halteman and Powers aided by three straight Ramapo attack errors. A Dan Follett (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) kill on set point closed out the win.

In the second set, the Eagles won the final six points of the set, including five straight points off the serve of Halteman. Werle had two kills while Wanner had one during the final run, with a block by Werle and Craig Harvey (Beverly, Mass./St. Johns Prep) finishing off the set.

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