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Men's volleyball grinds out a win against Rutgers-Newark

(Posted February 12, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Juniata College men's volleyball team started off Friday night's match a little sluggish, but went on to post a 3-1 victory over Rutgers University-Newark at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

Set scores for Juniata were 28-30, 30-26, 30-28, 30-27.

The Eagles dropped set one to the Scarlet Raiders, after struggling in virtually every facet of the game. Ben Wolff (Meadville, Pa./ Meadville) hit .500 in the first set with three kills, and was the only Juniata attacker with a hitting percentage over .200 in the opening frame. The Eagles finished set one with a .067 attack percentage to the Raiders' .086.

Juniata regrouped for set two, but soon found itself in a hole trailing Rutgers-Newark. Juniata edged its way back into the set to tie the score at 14-14 after two points on setting and attack errors by the Scarlet Raiders. The set was back and forth until John Almquist (York, Pa./ Central York) entered the match at 25-all and served the Eagles to set point. Almquist had three service aces, a career high, during his run to help finish off Rutgers-Newark. Wolff ended the set with a kill to knot the match at 1-1.

"I thought the turning point in the match was when Almquist came into serve in set two" said Head Men's Volleyball Coach Jeremy Price. "He ran off five straight points including three aces and also created an overpass, which is an easy point for us."

Hoping to carry that momentum from set two into the third game, the Eagles instead watched the Scarlet Raiders go on a 3-0 run to open the set. Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./ Ambridge Area) stepped up to put Juniata on the scoreboard with a kill to end the Rutgers-Newark run. The Eagles didn't take the lead until setter Mike Kraft
(York, Pa./ Eastern York) went to the service line and served Juniata into 14-12 lead. Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./ Hempfield) and Wolff each had kills off Kraft service.

Juniata led the set until Rutgers-Newark rattled off four straight points to take a 19-17 lead. The Eagles eventually tied the set back up at 24-24 with Vrooman lighting a fire and ripping off an ace to tie the set. Eventually, Rutgers-Newark crawled its way back into the game at 27-27, with a service ace by Kenneth de Groh. Wanner quickly answered with one of his 13 kills in set three to put Juniata on set point. A service error by Nate Stott two points later gave game three to the Eagles.

Set four began much like the previous three sets, with neither Juniata nor Rutgers-Newark able to gain more than a two-point advantage. Wanner's kill at 24-22 shocked the Scarlet Raiders, with no defender getting a hand on the ball. Juniata led the rest of the way with the match ended on an Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./ Christopher Dock) kill.

Wanner finished the match with 22 kills and an attack percentage of .348. Wolff was second with 11 kills on 17 attempts hitting .471 for the night. Kraft dished out 51 assists, a career high. Libero Anthony Damiano sprawled for 14 digs, keeping many rallies alive. Vrooman finished with 10 digs.

"Zach Wanner and Ben Wolff carried the team offensively," said Price. "They both played well as match wore on."

Stott led Rutgers-Newark with 18 kills on 38 swings, pacing a Scarlet Raider squad that hit .201 for the match. The Scarlet Raiders out blocked Juniata, 15.5 to 8.0, with Jon Keller recording eight total blocks.

Juniata takes on EIVA Tait Division rival George Mason at home on Saturday, February 13 at 7 p.m. at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

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