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Women's volleyball dominates Carnegie Mellon on the stat sheet, but just gets past the Tartans on the scoreboard

(Posted October 23, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- After the match, Juniata College head women's volleyball coach Larry Bock had a puzzled look about him as he reviewed the box score from Friday night's match against Carnegie Mellon University.

Juniata (25-2) handily outhit CMU, .326 to .103. The Eagles outworked the Tartans on defense, 50 digs to 39. Each team had six blocks. And ultimately, Juniata posted a 3-0 win over Carnegie Mellon, in the first night of competition at the 2009 Wid Guisler Invitational at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

But the set scores told a different story: 25-14, 26-24, and 25-22 for the Eagles.

So what kept things so close between second-ranked Juniata and a Carnegie Mellon squad that entered Friday night's match with a 13-10 overall record?

"I really want to see the film on this one, because that's a very good question and I can't answer it" said Bock. "It just seemed really disjointed. Our first contacts were all over the place."

"I think our hitters, in the end, did a real good job of hitting our way out of trouble. Steph (Strauss) wasn't getting a whole lot to set, and our hitters weren't getting a whole lot to hit. I didn't think we had a good defensive night at all, but we outdug them 50 to 39," said Bock.

"Maybe I'm trying to find a work of art in a construction job, here," summarized Bock. "It wasn't a pretty match to watch, but our kids found a way to be semi-effective."

What artistry there was on the court may have come mostly from middle Kelsey Fuller (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion). The freshman led the Eagles with 12 kills on 25 swings with just four errors for a .320 hitting percentage, and served a team-high three aces.

Freshman middle Ashley Schnader (Reinholds, Pa./Garden Spot) tallied eight kills on 18 swings and hit at a .278 clip. Setter Steph Strauss (Penn Hills, Pa./Penn Hills) set 35 assists for Juniata, and chipped in offensively with two blocks and four kills. She also had 13 digs. Megan Sollenberger (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) turned up 16 digs, while Kristin Noetzel (Closter, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) had five total blocks.

Opposite Paige Johnston (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) had seven kills on 19 swings, and hit .263 for the match with three total blocks.

In the first set, Juniata broke a 4-4 tie with three straight points off the serve of Kelsey Fuller (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion), including an Schnader kill and a Fuller ace. The run was snapped by a Jessica Brackin kill, but the Eagles responded with five of the next six points to take a 12-6 lead. Juniata hit .375 for the set to hold a sizable lead the rest of the set, before a Johnston kill - one of her four in the set - clinched the set for Juniata.

Set two was a much closer affair, with the Eagles finally pulling out the win on a pair of Carnegie Mellon attack errors. The Tartans actually led for much of the set, until the Eagles drew even with CMU at 16-16 on a Tartan attack error. Carnegie Mellon regained then lost the lead three more times, before Juniata took the lead for good at 20-19 on Steph Strauss' kill.

Another CMU attack error and a setting error extended Juniata's lead to 22-19, but the Tartans rattled off the next four points to take a 23-22 lead. Caroline Size and Madeline Rosnick each had kills during the CMU run. Three straight side out points left the match tied at 24-24, and back-to-back Tartan attack errors handed the set to the Eagles.

Juniata jumped out to a commanding lead in the third set, breaking open a 6-6 tie with a 12-3 run that included a pair of kills by Kristin Noetzel and three by Drew Barnhart. That stretch left the Eagles with an 18-9 lead.

The Tartans fought their back into the set with a run of their own, taking nine of the next 11 points to pull to within two of the Eagles at 20-18. A Schnader kill froze the CMU run and stretched Juniata's lead to 21-18, and four straight side out points moved the score to 23-20. An attack error by the Tartans' Samantha Carter put the Eagles on match point at 24-20, and three points later a Carnegie Mellon service allowed Juniata to seal the set and the match.

"I think we all would have liked this to be easy tonight, but it wasn't easy," said Bock. "CMU kept coming back and coming back on us."

Carnegie Mellon (13-11) was paced offensively by Jessica Brackin with six kills on 15 swings, while Carter and Rosnick each tacked on five kills. Aislinn McCloskey and Aubrey Johnson logged three total blocks for the Tartans, while Emily Baddock recorded nine digs.

Over 750 fans were in attendance at Friday night's match, which was Juniata volleyball's annual "Dig Pink Night". A number of fundraising activities for breast cancer research took place, and Juniata wore pink uniform jerseys.

Juniata (25-2) continues play in the 2009 Wid Guisler Invitational on Saturday, facing Geneva College at 11:00 a.m. followed by a match against York College at 5:00 p.m.

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Correction: Original version had statistics for Kelsey Fuller and Paige Johnston interchanged; above version reflects correct statistics.

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