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Juniata WVB sinks Lebanon Valley in three sets in NCAA tourney regional semifinals

(Posted November 13, 2010)

FROSTBURG, Md. -- Juniata College continued its march through the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship's Mid-Atlantic bracket with a 3-0 win over Lebanon Valley College, Saturday afternoon at Frostburg State University's Bobcat Arena.

Set scores for Juniata (32-5) were 25-15, 25-22, and 25-19.

"Lebanon Valley was a really good team, and it was good to get a quality test so early in the tournament," said Juniata head coach Larry Bock. "Bottom line, we had to earn pretty much everything today."

The Eagles earned their points on the strength of a .346 hitting performance, let by outside hitter Drew Barnhart's (Titusville, Pa./Titusville) 10 kills on 31 swings. Senior setter Steph Strauss (Penn Hills, Pa./Penn Hills) and sophomore opposite Kelsey Fuller (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) each tallied eight kills, with Fuller recording hers on 11 swings for a .727 attack clip. Strauss set 32 assists for the Eagles.

Middles Kristin Noetzel (Closter, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) and Amanda Schmidt (Boswell, Pa./North Star) combined to hit .400 with 13 kills for the Eagles, with Schmidt having a hand in three blocks including two solos. Junior libero Libby Morrison (Portland, Ore./Oregon Episcopal School) turned up 22 digs, tied for second-most this season over a three set match.

The Eagles faced their toughest challenge in the second set, when Juniata failed to shake Leb Val all the way through 22-21. A Strauss kill finally allowed the Eagles to take a two-point lead, and a setting error by the Dutch's Emily Perkins put Juniata on set point. Two points later, a Barnhart termination allowed the Eagles to clinch the set and a 2-0 lead.

Juniata broke a 2-2 tie early in the third set with four straight points, including a Morrison service ace - one of her three in the match - followed by a Noetzel kill. The Eagles held a comfortable lead all the way through 19-12, when the Flying Dutchmen began to make a move.

Lebanon Valley proceded to rattle off four straight points to cut the Juniata lead to 19-16, punctuated by two kills off the swing of Megan Schoch. After the teams traded side-out points, the Dutch chalked up two more points on an Emily Perkins ace and another Schoch kill, reducing the Eagle lead to 20-19.

A Perkins service error gave a side-out point to Juniata, and an Amy Miller (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) kill stretched the Eagles' lead to 22-19 and forced Leb Val to call a timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, Strauss and Schmidt each put away kills to put Juniata on match point, and a Schmidt solo block ended the match to advance the Eagles into the regional championship.

Lebanon Valley (24-10) was led by Michelle Little and Joelle Snyder with nine kills each, with Perkins recording 24 assists while setting an offense that was held to just .121 hitting on the afternoon. The Flying Dutchmen actually out-dug the Eagles, with 50 digs to Juniata's 48.

"We still need to work on things away from the ball," said Bock. "We played the ball well tonight, but we weren't preparing well to play the ball."

Juniata will face Frostburg State in Sunday afternoon's regional championship match, which begins at 4:00 p.m. at Frostburg's Bobcat Arena. At stake is a berth in the national quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship, which starts on Friday, Nov. 19, in St. Louis, Mo.

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