(Posted November 29, 2000)

For the 16th time in the history of the Juniata College women?s volleyball program, the squad is headed into the NCAA Division III semfinals/finals. After serving as the host of the four-team final grouping the past two seasons and watching Central College (IA) claim two straight national titles, the Eagles will be looking to turn the tables on the Dutch, as Central will serve as this year's host for the first time in the history of the institution.

This year's semifinals/finals round will be held the weekend of December 1-2. The Eagles (33-8) will square off against Wisconsin-Whitewater (39-1) at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on Friday, December 1 in one semifinal, while Washington (MO) (33-4) will take on host Central (38-2) in the other semifinal tilt at 9:00 p.m. (EST). The winners will play for the national championship at 9:00 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, December 2, while the losers will compete for third-place at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on the same day. Ticket prices for each day's entrance to Kuyper Gymnasium in Pella, Iowa, are adults-$4, students with identification-$3 and children under 12-$2. Both Juniata matches will be broadcast live on WKVR (92.3 FM) with Bub Parker and Mark Pavlik on the call.

The semifinals will be a gathering of top-notch teams. The Eagles were ranked fifth in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III poll, while Wis-Whitewater was first, Central was second and Washington was third. Although there will be plenty of talent from this year's teams in the gym for the two-day weekend, each squad also has a rich tradition. In addition to Juniata making its NCAA Division III 16th trip to the semifinals/finals, Washington will be in the midst of its 10th journey, Central will be making its fourth trip and Wis-Whitewater will be making its third in the grouping of four.

Juniata earned its 16th trip to the semifinals in program history by defeating Cortland State in Huntingdon on Saturday evening in the NCAA quarterfinal round, 3-1. Central downed Mount Saint Joseph, 3-0, Wis-Whitewater got past Puget Sound, 3-2, and Washington took care of Wellesley, 3-0.

The Eagles are the only team that has received invitations to the NCAA Division III tournament in every year it has been in existence (a span of 20 years). Of the 19 NCAA championships contested, nine have been claimed by participants in this year's semifinals/finals round. Central posted a 3-0 victory against Trinity (TX) last year at Juniata to win its second straight national title. Washington has won a Division III volleyball record seven national crowns (the last coming in 1996). Although Juniata has never claimed an NCAA championship, the Eagles have been the runner up two of the past four years and have taken second four times overall.

Juniata and Wis-Whitewater have crossed paths just one time in the NCAA playoffs. In 1988, the College Hill squad downed the Warhawks, 3-2, in the consolation match. Central and the Bears have played each other one time in the national post-season tournament, with the Dutch emerging with a 3-0 victory over Washington in the 1997 consolation match. Central has participated in the national tournament for six years (1995-00), while Washington has been a fixture in the playoffs since 1987 (a span of 13 years) and Wis-Whitewater is in the midst of its 12th journey in the NCAA post-season (1986-89, 1992-00).

Coach Larry Bock, the only mentor the Juniata program has ever had, is in his 24th season at the helm and owns a 893-148 career record. He has guided the Eagles to a Division III best 79 NCAA playoff matches played.

The Eagles are led this fall by junior outside hitter Brandy Workinger (Dallastown/Dallastown), who is averaging 4.92 kills, 4.62 digs, 0.60 blocks and 0.34 service aces per game. She is also hitting a team-best .346. Sophomore setter Jesse Woods (Bothell/Seattle, WA) is dishing out 12.40 assists an outing and coming up with 3.00 digs and a squad-high 0.50 aces a contest. Sophomore middle hitter Niki Mueller (Bishop Guilfoyle/Altoona) is averaging 2.68 kills and 0.82 blocks per game, while hitting .322.

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