(Posted April 7, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - In a battle of a pair of teams ranked in the top four of Division III men\'s volleyball the second-ranked Juniata College men came out on the short end of a 3-0 decision to fourth-ranked Springfield College (Mass.) in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) Division III Championship Saturday in Huntingdon. The loss was the first for Juniata (13-7) against a Division III opponent since 2004, a stretch of 32 matches. Springfield (18-8) used a balanced offensive attack that saw four players record eight kills as the Pride hit .308 as a team. Juniata fell by game scores of 30-25, 38-36 and 30-25. Juniata was led by Nate Ocasio (Northeastern/Manchester) who led all players with 17 kills, but the Eagles were unable to find offensive consistency throughout the match. Springfield led from the start in game one, with a Dave Smietana service ace helping the visitors to a 14-9 edge. Juniata got no closer than three points for the rest of the game as a Smietana kill sealed the victory. Game two was remarkable as both teams had chances to claim the win late in the match. Juniata trailed again early but then scored recorded four double blocks in seven points to move in front 22-21. Consecutive kills from Ocasio seemed to put Juniata in control with a 28-25 lead, but Springfield scored six of the next eight points with a kill from Andy Sipe putting the Pride at game point 31-30. The Eagles answered with a pair of kills from Jeremy Barndt (Souderton/Souderton) to have its own chance at winning the game, but Springfield countered with a kill and a double block to again take control. Juniata fought off four game points before a kill from Sipe closed out the game. Springfield again took control early in game three as a serving run from Eric Shoemaker helped the Pride build a 10-6 lead. Three-straight points later in the game extended the lead to six, before a Barndt solo block sparked a run that pulled Juniata within two at 16-14. The Eagles eventually got back within one point at 20-19 on a kill from Dan Powers (Manheim Township/Lancaster) but the Pride came up with the points down the stretch to seal the match with a 30-25 win. Juniata hit .207 for the match, including .081 and .171 in games one and three respectively. Ocasio finished with 17 kills and a .316 hitting percentage. Barndt produced 11 finished and hit .400 for the Blue and Gold while also leading all players with eight blocks. Powers also hit .500 with eight kills. Matt Werle (Meadville/Meadville) passed out 41 assists on the day and Steve Yeager (Hempfield/East Petersburg) led Juniata with 17 digs. Despite being outblocked 12.5-11.5 Springfield finished with 31 digs to just 17 for Juniata. Ryan Frederickson led the Pride with 12 kills while Sipe added 11 and hit .529. AJ Nally added nine finishes and Smietana chipped in with eight. Shoemaker passed out 45 assists for the visitors while adding seven digs. Nally led the team with eight digs while Sipe paced the squad with six blocks. Juniata will return to action on Tuesday night when the Eagles close the regular season with an EIVA Tait match against Saint Francis (Pa.) in Huntingdon. Juniata and Springfield will both be in action again next weekend when Juniata hosts the 2007 Molten Division III Men\'s Volleyball National Invitational. ###

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