(Posted March 30, 2006)

Huntingdon, PA - A berth in the Molten Division III Men's Invitational Volleyball Championship will be on the line as the Juniata College men's volleyball team hosts the EIVA Division III Championship March 31-April 1 in Huntingdon. The four-team event will feature a pair of semifinals Friday March 31 with match times of 6:00 and 8:00 p.m., with the championship match scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Saturday April 1. The winner earns an automatic bid to the 2006 Molten Division III Men's Invitational Championship April 7-8 in Hoboken, N.J.

Juniata (8-11), 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 (2-14) in the second semifinal Friday evening. The first semifinal will feature the second seed New York University (9-12) taking on the third seed Springfield College (10-13). 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 sixth respectively, while Vassar is ranked 15th.

These same four teams met in the 2005 EIVA Division III postseason, with Juniata defeating Vassar in the semifinal and then earning a victory over NYU in the championship match to claim its third-consecutive EIVA Division III Championship. Juniata has not faced Vassar this season, but is 2-0 against both NYU and Springfield. Juniata is currently in the midst of a 19-match winning streak against Division III foes, with its last loss coming April 2, 2004 against Springfield.

The Eagles have featured a balanced offensive attack throughout the season. Sophomore Matt Fritz (John Carroll/Churchville, Md.) leads the team with 211 kills and ranks second in digs and aces. After returning to the lineup midway through the season, junior Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) has pounded out 141 kills and his 3.92 kills per game is tops on the team. Fellow junior Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) is second in kills for Juniata and has posted team-bests of 78 blocks and a .368 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Glenn DeHaven (Walt Whitman/South Huntington, N.Y.) is third on the squad in kills, second in digs and fifth in blocks and aces. Senior middle Cordt Withum (Penn Manor/Holtwood) ranks second in blocks and hitting percentage and is fifth with 120 kills. Freshman setter Matt Werle (Meadville/Meadville) is averaging 10.38 assists per game and leads the team with 29 serve aces.

Second-seed NYU enters the tournament 4-2 against the other three teams in the championship, as they've earned two victories over both Springfield and Vassar. The Violets have reached the EIVA Division III Championship match each of the past two seasons, falling to host Juniata on both occasions. Springfield is 2-4 against the other teams in the tournament as they have a pair of victories over Vassar. Springfield is the only Division III team to have won four Molten Division III Championships. Vassar is in the EIVA Division III postseason for the second-consecutive season.

Juniata is the two-time defending Molten Division III and three-time EIVA Division III champion. The Eagles claimed the 2005 and 2004 EIVA Division III titles with 3-1 victories 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 7-8 in Hoboken N.J. The host school and UC Santa Cruz 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.