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Juniata men's volleyball drops three-set decision at Ohio State

(Posted January 31, 2010)

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Some days, you just run into an opponent who's "on". That was case Sunday afternoon for Juniata College men's volleyball.

Ohio State hit .432 for the match with just 11 attack errors on its way to a 3-0 win over Juniata at St. John Arena. Set scores for the Buckeyes were 30-18, 30-25, and 30-26.

The Buckeyes' .432 attack percentage on Sunday was the best by a Juniata opponent other than Penn State over the past three seasons.

Juniata (1-3) responded with a .197 hitting percentage over the entire match, but that was weighed down by a -.062 attack clip in the first set, when the Eagles logged just eight kills against 10 errors on 32 attacks. Juniata rebounded in the second and third sets, when, despite some long rallies, the Eagles still hit .227 and .366 respectively.

In the final two sets, Juniata gave Ohio State all it could handle and nearly pulled off upsets in both frames.

In set two, Juniata trailed Ohio State but just one point at 22-21, but back-to-back kills by Buckeye outside hitter Mik Berzins vaulted OSU into a 24-21 lead. A Juniata attack error, another Berzins kill, and a termination by the Buckeyes Shawn Sangrey stretched the margin to 27-21, before Juniata brought the Ohio State to an end with a Sangrey attack error.

Three straight side out points and a Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) kill left the Eagles trailing by four at 28-24, but three sideout points allowed the Buckeyes to clinch the set.

Juniata led throughout the early part of the third set, holding as much as a four-point lead on five separate occasions. Ohio State finally caught Juniata at 18-18 on an Eagle attack error, but a cycle of four straight side out points allowed Juniata to re-take the lead twice more.

A Sangrey kill knotted the set a 20-20, and consecutive Nick Gibson kills put the Buckeyes in front, 22-20. Two sideout points and an exchange of kills by Berzins and Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./Ambridge Area) kept Juniata within two of Ohio State, 24-22, and five straight side out points advanced the set to 27-24. An OSU block on a Wanner attack pushed the score along to 28-24, but the Buckeyes closed out the set four sideout points later on a Sangrey kill.

Wanner logged 10 kills on 40 attacks, but also tallied 11 errors and finished with a -.025 attack percentage. Vrooman tallied nine kills on 30 swings for a .133 attack percentage, while middle hitter Ben Wolff (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) had eight terminations on 14 swings with just one miscue. Both Juniata middles enjoyed good outings against the Buckeyes, as senior middle Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) had seven kills on 16 error-free attacks and hit .438 for the match.

Setter Mike Kraft (York, Pa./Eastern York) set the offense with 34 assists, while libero Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) and Kraft each turned up eight digs.

Ohio State's Sangrey finished with a match-high 18 kills on 35 swings for a .429 hitting percentage, while Berzins tallied 12 kills. The Buckeyes two middles, Kevin Heine and Grayson Overman, combined for 17 kills on 25 swings with no errors.

Ohio State finished with 44 digs to Juniata's 38, and the Buckeyes outblocked the Eagles, 8.0 to 5.0.

Juniata returns to the court on Friday, Feb. 5, when it travels to Loretto, Pa., to take on EIVA Tait Division-rival Saint Francis University. Start time is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

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