(Posted April 9, 2005)

Huntingdon, PA ? The Juniata College men?s volleyball team insured that it will have a chance to defend its Molten Division III National Championship as the Eagles earned an automatic bid to the Molten Championship with a 3-1 victory over New York University in the championship match of the EIVA Division III postseason. Juniata topped the Violets by game scored of 25-30, 30-23, 30-17 and 30-24 to improve to 17-7 on the year. New York drops to 8-14 on the season after falling to the Eagles for the second-consecutive year in the EIVA Division III final.

Early on it looked like the Violets were going to atone for last year?s finals loss as the visitors stormed out to an early lead in game one. One of Macnair Sillick?s match-high 22 kills put NYU in front 21-12, and though Juniata made a late push, the Violets closed the game on another Sillick kill to move in front one game to none.

The Eagles came looking much sharper in game two. Holding a three-point edge at 14-17, a double block from Ricky Ziegler (Northeastern/Manchester) and Cordt Withum (Penn Manor/Holtwood) sparked an 8-3 run that put Juniata comfortably in front 25-17. An NYU service area capped the game, giving Juniata to 30-23 win.

Juniata maintained its momentum into game three, as a Withum service ace put Juniata in front 18-10. Juniata then got a kill from Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) and a block from Withum and Ocasio down the stretch to claim the 30-17 game-three win.

The Violets seemed intent on sending the match to a decisive fifth-game as they led early in game four. A solo block from Jonathan Wintermeyer put the visitors in front 13-12, only to see Juniata score five of the next seven points to pull back into the lead. A double block from Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) and Ziegler was followed by another double stuff from Barndt and Nick Bernardo (Chrisopher Dock/Lansdale) which made the score 22-16 and forced a New York timeout. Sillick registered a kill out of the timeout, but Juniata didn?t let the visitors get any closer than five the rest of the way and then closed the match with a Glenn DeHaven (Walt Whitman/South Huntington, N.U.) kill.

Ocasio led two Juniata players in double figures in kills with 20 finishes. Bernardo added 13 for Juniata. Ziegler passed out 52 assists in the victory, and helped Juniata to a .479 team attack percentage. Withum and Barndt each closed the match with five blocks, while Tim Cole (Pennsbury/Yardley) added eight digs.

Sillick led all players with his 22 kills, as he finished the two-day tournament with 55 finishes. Chris Schmidt added 12 for the Violets and Brandon Mortenson chipped in with 10. Leeor Alon recorded 48 assists for NYU and also led the team with eight digs. Wintermeyer led all players with three blocks.

Ziegler was tabbed as the tournament Most Valuable Player while Ocasio, Bernardo, Barndt, Sillick, Schmidt Springfield?s Ricky Albano were all named to the All-Tournament Team.

Juniata will be looking to claim the program?s third Molten Division III National Championship when play begins Friday at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.


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