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Loyola's hitting and Juniata's errors prove to be Eagle men's volleyball's undoing against Ramblers

(Posted February 19, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College men's volleyball ran into a hard-hitting Loyola University-Chicago squad on Friday night, dropping a 3-0 decision to the Ramblers at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

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

Three Juniata (4-4) players posted double-digit kill totals, led by middle Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) with 14 on 18 swings for a .722 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) tallied 13 terminations on 31 swings for a .355 attack clip, while middle Ben Wolff (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) logged 10 kills with three total blocks.

Setter Mike Kraft (York, Pa./Eastern York) doled out 37 assists while running a Juniata offense that hit .292 as a team, its third-best hitting effort this season.

Defensively, libero Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) turned up 11 digs; he now has 583 for his career, and is seven digs shy of breaking into Juniata's top five career leaderboard in that category.

Loyola (8-0), ranked 12th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I/II poll, only had two hitters reach double figures in kills: Matt Adler with 13 kills on 18 swings for a .611 attack percentage, and Kris Berzins with 10 kills.

The Ramblers were extremely efficient offensively, hitting .398 as a team against Juniata on only 88 swings. It was Juniata miscues that made up for what Loyola lacked in attacks; the Eagles yielded 36 points on its attack errors (15) and service errors (21), while the Ramblers combined for just 24 combined attack and service errors.

The Ramblers also out-dug the Eagles, 39-23, and out-blocked Juniata 5.5 to 4.0.

Juniata held a slim lead over Loyola throughout the first set, but the Ramblers caught the Eagles for good on Adler's block to knot the score at 17-17. Loyola gained the lead on a Juniata ball-handling error but knotted the set back up on an Halteman kill off the block. The Ramblers' Mike Bunting posted back-to-back kills to give Loyola a 20-18 advantage, which it held the lead the rest of the way.

Down 23-19, Juniata threatened to overtake Loyola after a pair of terminations by Wanner followed up a Wolff kill. A serving error by Matt Schmidt (Catonsville, Md./Mount St. Joseph) allowed the Ramblers to regain a two-point lead, and Bunting's service ace and Mike Morice kill allowed Loyola to take a 26-22 lead.

The Eagles were unable to regroup enough to catch the Ramblers after a timeout at 26-22, despite a pair of kills by Halteman and Kraft down the stretch in the first set.

Juniata trailed Loyola much of the second set, but eventually pulled even with the Ramblers at 19-19 on a kill by Halteman. A side out kill by Loyola and a double block by Dan Follett (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) and Wolff advanced the score to 20-20, and the Eagles kept right on going with four more points to take a 24-20 lead. Matt Schmidt had a pair of service aces during the run, while Wanner tacked on a kill.

The Ramblers began chipping away at the Eagle lead, first with a Bunting kill followed by a Wolff attack error. A side out kill by Wanner stretched Juniata's lead to 25-22, but Loyola came back with the next four points, including kills by Morice and Bunting, to take a 26-25 lead. Another Wanner side out kill knotted the set at 26-all, but the Ramblers regained the lead at 27-26 on a John Almquist (York, Pa./Central York) service error. A pair of Juniata attack errors sandwiched around a George Kamberos service ace gave the set to Loyola.

The Eagles seemed to lose their intensity at the start of the third set, quickly falling behind 4-1. Juniata trailed the entire way in what proved to be the final set, and came closest to catching Loyola at 13-11 following a Wolff kill. The Ramblers' Adler and Kris Berzins stretched Loyola's lead to 15-11 before Juniata could stop the run with a Cameron Andrew kill. However Loyola picked up three of the next four points, and Juniata would get no closer.

Juniata returns to action Saturday night, as the Eagles host Lewis University at 7:00 p.m. at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center. Lewis is ranked 15th in this week's AVCA Division I/II poll.

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