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Damiano's match point dig helps Juniata MVB to outlast Rutgers-Newark in 3-2 victory

(Posted April 1, 2010)

NEWARK, N.J. -- Juniata College won three close sets and received solid performances from across the lineup as it knocked off EIVA Hay Division foe Rutgers University-Newark, 3-2, Thursday night at The Golden Dome in Newark, N.J.

Set scores for the Eagles were 23-30, 30-27, 21-30, 30-25, and 18-16, over a Rutgers-Newark squad that shocked sixth-ranked Penn State on the same court just five nights earlier.

Juniata (7-12) got points from across its entire front line, putting together one of their best all-around efforts of the season. Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) put down 24 kills and hit .333 for the match, giving the senior outside hitter his second-highest kill total in a match this season. Fellow pin hitter Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./Ambridge Area) also logged 12 kills.

In the middle, senior Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) played error-free with 10 kills while hitting .455 on the night, while sophomore Ben Wolff (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) tallied 16 terminations with a .536 hitting percentage.

Eagle setter John Almquist (York, Pa./Central York) logged 61 assists while managing a Juniata attack that hit .291 for the match, slightly trailing Rutgers-Newark's .300 attack percentage. The Eagles totaled 71 total kills for the match, also behind the Scarlet Raiders' 82 kills.

However Juniata controlled points at the net, finishing with 11.5 total kills to Rutgers-Newark's 7.0 total kills. Wolff paced the Eagles with five total blocks, while Halteman had a hand in four blocks and both Wanner and Vrooman had three apiece.

Senior libero Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) recorded a season-high 22 digs, but it was his final dig of the night that allowed Juniata to complete the win over Rutgers-Newark in the Eagles' second match in as many days.

Facing match point in the fifth set at 16-15, Damiano had a diving one-handed dig that kept play alive. The point finally ended with Wanner burying a kill, knotting the set at 16-16. A block by Almquist and Wolff put the Eagles on match point, and an attack error by the Scarlet Raiders' Eduardo Hernandez allowed the Eagles to clinch the win.

The Eagles were the beneficiaries of the Scarlet Raiders' serving miscues in the fifth set. Rutgers-Newark had a string of six consecutive service errors midway through the set, blowing their chance to open some room between themselves and Juniata and instead giving the Eagles valuable side out points.

Rutgers-Newark (9-11) also had four players finish with ten-or-more kills, led by Marcin Midura's 26 kills on 55 swings for a .364 attack clip. Hernandez tallied 23 kills, while Dane Mulligan and Mark Kochan had 13 and 11 kills respectively. Kochan led Rutgers-Newark with four total blocks, while Hernandez had three.

Scarlet Raider libero Tomas Goldsmith also turned in a fine performance, sprawling for 21 digs over the five sets.

Juniata completes its grueling three-matches-in-three-days stretch on Friday evening, when it faces Stevens Tech in a battle of top 15 programs. The Eagles are ranked number one in this week's AVCA Division III Coaches Poll, while the Ducks are tied for 15th with Carthage College.

Complete box score with match play-by-play

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