(Posted April 7, 2006)

HOBOKEN, N.J. ? An efficient offensive attack helped the Juniata College men?s volleyball team overcome a raucous home crowd and move one step closer to claiming its third-consecutive Molten Division III Men?s Invitational Volleyball Championship as the Eagles topped host Stevens Institute of Technology 3-0 in Hoboken Friday night. Juniata, which improved to 11-11 with the victory will face UC Santa Cruz in the championship match Saturday afternoon. Stevens Tech drops to 26-12 with the loss.

Juniata hit an impressive .425 as a team in the contest and had three players knocked out 10 or more kills as they earned the win by game scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 30-21. The Eagles limited Stevens to a .120 hitting percentage and out-blocked the home team 9.5-1.

The Ducks led for much of game one, jumping out to a 13-10 lead after an ace from Andrew Cranford. Juniata stayed close, though Stevens stayed in front, and led as late as 25-23 on a kill from Chris Bock. Juniata then made its big move as the Eagles rattled off five-straight points to take a 28-25 lead. The run featured three kills from Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) along with a kill apiece from Glenn DeHaven (Walt Whitman/South Huntington, N.Y.) and Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester). The Eagles then closed out the game with kills from DeHaven and Matt Fritz (John Carroll/Churchville, Md.).

Game two followed a much different pattern as the Eagles jumped out to a huge lead, and then hung on to hold off Stevens. An early service ace from Ocasio and three-straight kills from Barndt helped Juniata claim a 17-8 lead. The Eagles would maintain the lead until Bock went on a serving run that featured a pair of aces and pulled the home team to within five points at 24-19. A double block from Matt Werle (Meadville/Meadville) and Barndt halted the run and though Stevens pulled within two points at 29-27 on a Greg Higgins kill a finish from Ocasio closed out the game.

The Eagles got off to another quick start in game three as a Fritz kill made the score 13-7 in favor of Juniata. Stevens would rally to pull within three before a 6-2 Juniata run made the score 21-14. The Eagles stayed in control in the game and would close out the match with a double block from Cordt Withum (Penn Manor/Holtwood) and Werle and then a triple block from Fritz, Withum and Werle.

Ocasio led all players with 14 kills in the contest, while he was also one of four Eagles to finish with four digs. He also attacked at a .565 clip in the match. Barndt finished with 13 kills and a stellar .706 hitting percentage, while Fritz added 10 kills for the Eagles and four digs of his own. Werle passed out 38 assists in the match while also providing a team-high five blocks and four digs. Casey Dale (Cochranton/Cochranton) led the team with seven digs, while Withum blocked four balls and also provided four digs.

Scott Stoner led Stevens Tech with 11 kills in the match, and boasted an impressive .421 hitting percentage. Bock added nine kills for the home team and added two serve aces. Michael Schulte passed out 26 assists for the home team and was also tops on the team with six digs. Higgins, Stoner and Brian Carlson all finished with five digs defensively for Stevens which will play Rivier College in Saturday?s consolation match.

Juniata will be looking to become just the second team in the 10-year history of the Molten Championship to win three-consecutive titles. The Eagles will take on UC Santa Cruz which earned a 3-0 win over Rivier in the day?s other semifinal.


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