(Posted April 7, 2005)

Huntingdon, PA - A berth in the Molten Division III Championship will be on the line as the Juniata College men's volleyball team hosts the EIVA Division III Championship April 8-9 in Huntingdon. The four-team event will feature a pair of semifinals Friday April 8 with match times of 6:00 and 8:00 p.m., with the championship match scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Saturday April 9. The winner earns an automatic bid to the Molten Division III Championship April 14-15 in Hoboken, N.J.

Juniata (15-7), currently ranked first in the CSTV/American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) top-15 poll, earned the top seed for the championship, and will play fourth-seed Vassar College (5-14) in the second semifinal Friday evening. The first semifinal will feature the second seed New York University (7-12) taking on the third seed Springfield College (6-13). Along with top-ranked Juniata, each of the three teams holds a spot in the Division III top-15 poll. New York and Springfield are second and third respectively, while Vassar is ranked 15th.

The Eagles enter the postseason having won 11 of their last 12 matches. Juniata went 7-0 against Division III opponents during the regular season, including two wins over both New York and Springfield. Juniata did not face Vassar in 2005, but hold an 8-2 edge in the all-time series. Juniata won the most recent contest between the two teams, as the Eagles posted a 3-0 regular-season victory in Huntingdon last season.

Juniata is led by senior setter Rick Ziegler (Northeastern/Manchester) who passed out 959 assists during the regular season. He ranks first in the EIVA in assists per game, leads the team with 32 aces and is third on the team in digs (70) and fourth in blocks (34). Sophomore opposite Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) leads the Eagles with 226 kills, and a 3.42 kills per game average. Junior middle Cordt Withum (Penn Manor/Holtwood) leads the team, and EIVA with a .500 hitting percentage, while he pounded out 189 kills during the regular campaign. He is also tied for the team lead in blocks with 66. Sophomore Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) has also notched 66 blocks on the season, while adding 196 kills and a .426 hitting percentage. Junior libero Tim Cole (Pennsbury/Yardley) paced the Juniata defense during the season as he brought up a team-high 142 digs, which ranked fifth in the EIVA. All five of these players were selected to the EIVA Division III All-Star Team, with Ziegler, Ocasio, Withum and Barndt claiming first-team recognition, and Cole earning a spot on the second team.

All 14 members of the All-EIVA Division III Team will be in action over the weekend. Juniata, Springfield, New York and Vassar claimed all of the spots on the team. Juniata led the way with five selections, while Springfield and New York each had four, and Vassar placed one player on the team. New York and Springfield have met twice this season, with New York earning 3-2 victories in both matches. The Violets also have a pair of victories over Vassar on the season.

Juniata is the defending Molten Division III and EIVA Division III champion. The Eagles claimed the 2004 EIVA Division III title with a 3-1 victory over New York. Juniata also earned the EIVA Division III title in 2003, with a victory over Springfield. The Molten Division III Championship will be hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology April 14-15 in Hoboken N.J. The host school and Carthage College have already qualified for the event. The EIVA Division III postseason winner, and the winner of the North Eastern Collegiate Volleyball Association (NECVA) earn automatic bids to the Molten Championship.


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