(Posted September 1, 2006)

Juniata 3, Christopher Newport 0 Juniata 3, Wittenberg 0 Huntingdon, Pa. ? The Juniata College entered the 2006 season holding the top ranking in the CSTV/AVCA Division III Preseason Poll, and the Eagles showed exactly why as they posted a 3-0 victory over second-ranked Wittenberg along with a 3-0 triumph over Christopher Newport on the opening night of the 2006 ASICS Invitational in Huntingdon. In a rematch of the 2005 NCAA Division III semifinal, which Juniata won in five games, the Eagles blew open a tight game one with a late run and then rolled to the 30-23, 30-15, 30-21 win over Wittenberg. After neither team held a lead of more than two points throughout the first game, the Eagles got a kill from Rachael Schatz (West Perry/Elliotsburg) to take a 19-18 edge. That kill, and the serving of Beth Kozak (Huntingdon/Huntingdon) sparked an 8-0 Juniata run that gave the home team a comfortable 26-18 edge. Kozak had a pair of aces during the stretch and then Erin Albert (Philipsburg-Osceola/Philipsburg) closed the game with a pair of aces. Juniata would remain in control the rest of the match as the home team blitzed out to a 20-9 advantage in game two and never looked back to claim the 30-15 win. Juniata hit .444 in game two, while limiting the Tigers to .053. In game Juniata again rode strong early play to build a solid five-point advantage at 11-6 after a Paige Johnston (Hempfield/Lancaster) kill. Wittenberg pulled within three after a double block from Caitlin Augustus and Lindsey Penrod but back-to-back kills from Johnston and Amber Thomas (Conestoga Valley/Ephrata) got the Eagles rolling again as they took the game 30-21. Thomas led all players with 14 kills, while Schatz added 12 finishes. Juniata hit .357 as a team with Jessica Ritchey (Greencastle-Antrim/Greencastle) passing out 39 assists. Albert led the team with seven blocks and three aces, while Kristi Fitzsimmons (Diamond Ranch/Pomona, Calif.) led the squad with 14 digs. Emily Bell paced Wittenberg with 10 finishes in the match. Laura Fender brought up a team-best nine digs, while Augustus produced three blocks. Juniata?s 30-17, 30-18, 39-37 victory over Christopher Newport was highlighted by a dominant serving effort of the Blue and Gold. The Eagles tossed in 12 serve aces in the contest, with seven of them coming from freshman Megan Sollenberger (Cumberland Valley/Mechanicsburg). Juniata?s serving also helped limit the visitors to just a .052 hitting percentage. Juniata controlled play throughout the first two games, but was forced to pull out a late rally in game three. Trailing 28-22 Juniata rode the serving of both Megan and Molly Sollenberger (Cumberland Valley/Mechanicsburg) to tie the match at 29. The team?s would then trade sideouts before back-to-back kills from Michelle Morchesky (Hempfield/Greensburg) and Brittany Carr (Titusville/Titusville) to seal the match. Carr led the Eagles with eight kills. Ritchey passed out 20 assists for Juniata while Megan Sollenberger added a team-high 13 digs to go with her seven aces. Carr also topped the team with five blocks. Liz Bush was the top attacker for Christopher Newport as she finished with seven kills. Brittany Collins produced 18 assists for the visitors and matched Jenna Williams with a team-high 15 digs. Collins also led the squad with four blocks. Juniata closes play at the ASICS Invitational on Saturday with matches against Gettysburg and Muskingum. ###

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