(Posted March 17, 2007)

PRINCETON, N.J. - For the second time this season the Juniata College men\'s volleyball team and Princeton University staged an epic five-game battle, but this time Juniata came out on the short end as the Tigers outlasted the Eagles 3-2 in EIVA Tait Division action Saturday in Princeton. Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) knocked out a team-high 27 kills for Juniata (9-5, 4-4 EIVA Tait) which led the match two-games-to-one but dropped games four and five each by two points. The contest was the fourth-consecutive match between Juniata and Princeton that has gone to five games. Juniata won the meeting between the two teams earlier this season in Huntingdon by a 3-2 score. After falling 30-26 in game one, the Eagles claimed game two 30-20 and then staged a tremendous comeback to capture game three 37-35. But Princeton jumped out to leads early in games four and five, and each time Juniata\'s comeback attempts came up short as the Tigers won 30-28 and 15-13 in the final two games. Princeton (8-6, 6-3) got 17 kills from Mike Vincent to earn the win and remain in second place by themselves in the EIVA Tait. After each team looked impressive in games one and two, Juniata seemed to seize momentum in the match with a big comeback in game three. Trailing 29-25 Juniata got the side out and then scored four-straight points off the serving of Matt Werle (Meadville/Meadville) to take a 30-29 lead. The teams then traded points until Ocasio closed the game with back-to-back kills. Princeton reclaimed the momentum by jumping out to a 12-4 lead on a Vincent kill early in game four. The Tigers maintained the lead for most of the game, but a serving run from Ocasio and a kill from Glenn DeHaven (Walt Whitman/South Huntington, N.Y.) pulled Juniata even at 23 apiece. Consecutive kills from Peter Eichler put Princeton back in front, and despite two late kills from Matt Fritz (John Carroll/Churchville, Md.) Princeton held on for the 30-28 win. Juniata was forced to rally again in the decisive game five as a double block from Vincent and Brandon Denham put Princeton in front 10-5. A kill from Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) cut the lead to 12-9, and then an Ocasio kill followed by a double block from Ocasio and Dan Powers (Manheim Township/Lancaster) cut the score to 14-12. Fritz then notched a service ace to make it 14-13 Princeton, but a kill from Joseph Reid sealed the win for the home team. The defenses ruled the day for each team in the match as Juniata hit .213 in the match, while Princeton hit just .185 as a team. Ocasio finished with 27 kills and a solid .396 hitting percentage to lead the Eagles\' offense while he also contributed five blocks and 11 digs. Barndt led the team with a .417 hitting mark while knocking out 15 kills. DeHaven and Fritz added 11 and 10 kills respectively. Werle dished out 67 assists and had six blocks of his own along with two aces. Powers also finished with six blocks and two aces, and Fritz also contributed a pair of aces. Steve Yeager (Hempfield/East Petersburg) led all players with 17 digs. Princeton had four players reach double figures in kills. Vincent hit .355 while notching his 17 finishes and pacing the team with seven blocks. Eichler added 14 and Philip Rosenberg and Joseph each had 10. Denham dished out 57 assists for the Tigers and had 11 digs. Eichler led the team with 13 digs Juniata will face Division III rival New York University on Sunday at New York. ###

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