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Juniata men's volleyball's drive for Molten Invitational berth ends in 3-2 loss at Springfield College

(Posted April 1, 2011)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Juniata College's goal of playing in the final Molten Division III Men's Volleyball Invitational ended painfully Friday night, with Springfield College upending the Eagles, 3-2, at Blake Arena to eliminate Juniata from Molten contention.

Set scores for Springfield were 25-21, 25-19, 19-25, 19-25, and 19-17.

The Juniata (15-11) loss means the Eagles' post-season will consist of the EIVA Tournament, in which Juniata has already clinched a berth in the quarterfinals on April 23. Springfield and NYU will meet on April 6 in New York, with the winner earning the EIVA's berth in the Molten Invitational.

Three Juniata players finished in double-digits for kills, led by senior outside hitter Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./Ambridge) with 24 kills on 50 swings with a .420 attack percentage. Both opposite Alex McColgin (Hamburg, N.Y./Hamburg) and middle Ben Wolff (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) notched 11 kills each; Wolff hit .556 on his 18 attacks, and finished with four total blocks.

Middle John Prout (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) tallied six total blocks, leading an Eagle squad that outblocked the Pride, 12.0 to 9.0.

Setter Mike Kraft (York, Pa./Eastern York) set 50 assists to lead a Juniata squad that hit .277 on the night, narrowly outperforming a Springfield side that finished with a .269 attack percentage. Kraft also tallied 10 digs, trailing only McColgin with 11, to go with five total blocks and a pair of aces.

Springfield was led offensively by Alberto Bravo with 19 kills, while Greg Falcone and Cal Palumbo tallied 14 each. The Pride's offense generated 79.0 points, finishing with 66 kills to Juniata's 57, and turning up 58 digs.

In the decisive fifth set, Springfield overtook Juniata at 5-4 on a Falcone kill to tie the match followed by a Juniata attack error. Vrooman responded with a kill to tie the match at 5-5, but consecutive kills by Jeff Gutmann left the Pride with a 7-5 lead and Springfield never again trailed in the set.

Back-to-back kills by Kraft and Vrooman helped Juniata rally to tie the match at 14-14, and seven straight side out points later the score had advanced to 18-17 in Springfield's favor. Palumbo finally logged a kill after a length rally off a Bravo serve, allowing the Pride to clinch the victory.

Juniata concludes the two-match road trip on Saturday afternoon, April 2, as it faces the New Jersey Institute of Technology in an EIVA Hay Division match.

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