(Posted November 26, 2004)

Rochester, MN ? A little more than a year after Juniata College had its 2003 season cut short by New York University, the Eagles returned the favor with a 3-0 victory over the Violets in the NCAA Division III semifinal in Rochester, Minn. Friday evening. Juniata, now 36-3 will move on to play in the NCAA Division III Championship match against Washington University (Mo.) Saturday night. It will be Juniata?s first appearance in the championship match since the 1997 season, and the Eagles will be looking for their first national championship.

Juniata defeated the Violets by game scores of 30-21, 30-25 and 30-19 avenging a season-ending loss to NYU in last year?s NCAA quarterfinals. The Violets end their season with a record of 40-6. Juniata will head into the finals on an 18-match winning streak.

Juniata got out to a hot start in game one, getting a pair of early kills from Stephanie Kines (Towson/Towson, Md.) to pull in front 11-4. The Violets moved to within three on several occasions mid-way through the game, but Juniata pulled away late as Abby Leonard (Shade/Johnstown) served a four-point run, and then Juniata closed the game with a kill from Katie Laucks (West York/York) to cap the game.

?We were able to do some things early that mixed up their blocking a little bit,? Juniata Head Coach Larry Bock explained. ?The main thing is we just executed very well. It was a good effort against a very good team.?

Game two was nip and tuck throughout as a kill from Katie Charles (Manheim Township/Lancaster) tied the match at 14. Laucks followed with a kill that put Juniata in front for good. Erin Wisor (Altoona/Altoona) served three-straight points to extend the lead, and then closed the game with a kill for the 30-25 win.

Juniata?s defense limited the NYU attack to just a .167 attack percentage on the match, while the Eagles continued to attack efficiently, finishing with a .312 hitting percentage as a team.

?NYU runs a really unique offense, that can be tough to get a handle on,? Bock stated. ?We were able to get some blocks on the antenna early that I think altered them a little bit and made a little bit of a difference.?

Juniata jumped in front earl again in game three. An ace from Wisor made the score 8-4 Juniata, and forced an NYU timeout. Kills from Jennifer Wylie and Serena Bontour brought NYU within three at 9-6. Juniata would continue to pull away from there, as Rachael Schatz (West Perry/Elliotsburg) knocked out five of her eight kills down the stretch to extend the lead. An ace from Wisor capped the game.

Juniata had three players in double figures in kills, with Kines and Charles each posting 11. Laucks added 10 along with a team-high five blocks. Setter Carli Dale (Cochranton/Cochranton) finished with 38 assists and 10 digs, while libero Tara McMinn (Huntingdon/Huntingdon) paced the team with 18 digs.

Bontour knocked out 12 kills for the Violets, while Jennifer Gardikas added 10. Katya Khmelnitskaya passed out 28 assists and added 11 digs. Vanessa Biegen finished with four digs for NYU.

Juniata will play in its fifth NCAA Championship match, and the third time against Washington.


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Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.