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Men's volleyball falls to Springfield in four sets

(Posted March 5, 2010)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Juniata College opened Friday night's EIVA Tait Division men's volleyball against Springfield College with a decisive win in set one, but then dropped three straight in a 3-1 loss to the Pride at Blake Arena.

Set scores for Springfield were 19-30, 30-26, 30-20, and 30-25.

Juniata (5-7, 1-3 EIVA Tait) struggled to get its offense going through the middles, as Springfield held junior middle Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) and sophomore middle Ben Wolff (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) to a combined 11 kills on 37 swings with nine errors, yielding a .054 hitting percentage.

Halteman and Wolff were steadier at the net, where each recorded two total blocks. Wolff also logged five service aces on the night.

With the middles bottled up, the Eagles relied heavily on pin hitters Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) and Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./Ambridge Area) for their offense. Wanner racked up 25 kills on 50 swings and hit .340 for the match. Vrooman tallied 17 kills with only one error in his 39 attacks, finishing with a .410 hitting percentage. He also had a hand in a pair of blocks.

Setter Mike Kraft (York, Pa./Eastern York) set 52 assists for a Juniata squad that hit .270 for the match. Libero Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) sprawled for 10 digs, while outside hitter Dan Follett (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) turned up nine digs.

Four Springfield (11-6, 3-3 EIVA Tait) players finished the match with double-digit kill totals. Middle Cal Palumbo had 20 kills on 37 swings for a .630 hitting percentage, while outside hitter AJ Nally had 17 kills and hit .412 at the antenna. Outside hitter Mike Pelletier and opposite Alistair Matthews finished with 13 and 10 kills respectively.

Freshman middle Greg Falcone had five total blocks, leading a Springfield squad that outblocked Juniata 10.0 to 6.0.

Juniata gained its victory in the first set by outslugging Springfield, hitting .469 to the Pride's .257 attack percentage, and siding out at 85 percent. A four-point run by the Eagles broke open the set at 7-7, with back-to-back kills by Follett and Halteman starting the surge. Wanner's service ace and a Springfield ball handling error completed the run, and Juniata stayed ahead of Springfield the rest of the way.

The remaining three sets were a different story. The Eagles hit .215 over the final three frames, while the Pride hit .445 and sided out at 84 percent.

Juniata threatened to stage a late comeback in the second set, closing a 28-23 deficit with kills by Wanner and Halteman followed by a Palumbo attack error. That brought the Eagles to within two, 28-26. Springfield's Palumbo put the Pride on set point with a kill, and a Nally block of a Halteman attack ended the frame and tied the match at 1-1.

The Eagles return to action on Saturday afternoon, when they travel to Princeton, N.J., to face the Princeton Tigers in another EIVA Tait match. Match start is slated for 4:00 p.m.

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