(Posted April 12, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - Juniata College sophomore men\'s volleyball player Matt Werle (Meadville/Meadville) has been selected as the 2007 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Men\'s Volleyball Division III Player of the Year. The award was announced at the 2007 Molten Division III Invitational Championship Awards Banquet, held Thursday evening in Huntingdon. The banquet recognized each member of the 2007 Division III All-America Team, along with the four teams that will compete at the Molten Division III Men\'s Invitational Volleyball Championship beginning Friday. Werle is the third Juniata player to win this award in the four-year history of the AVCA Division III All-America program for men\'s volleyball. Juniata grads Kenny Eiser \'04 and Ricky Ziegler \'05 previously claimed the honor, though Werle is the first non-senior to capture the honor in its four-year history. \"This is really a great honor, and I\'m incredibly grateful to have been chosen,\" Werle said. \"There were a lot of very deserving people, including several on our team, so this means a lot. I just hope I can live up to this with my play this weekend.\" Werle assumed Juniata\'s starting setter role as a freshmen, and has enjoyed two strong seasons. In his sophomore campaign he is averaging 12.90 assists per game while passing out 1,109 assists through Juniata\'s first 22 matches. He has ranked among the Division III leaders in assists per game throughout the season, and also ranks second in the EIVA in assists per game. With Werle directing the offense Juniata has hit .292 as a team, and ranks among the Division III and EIVA leaders in hitting percentage. The Eagles have hit .300 or better as a team in 11 of their 22 matches on the year while Werle has 50 or more assists 12 times. His career-high of 71 assists came in a five-game victory over Division III rival New York University. The 6-4 setter has also been one of Juniata\'s top defensive players this season. He leads the team with 26 aces on the year, and also ranks second on the team in both blocks and digs. Werle has recorded 77 blocks on the year, for an average o 0.90 blocks per game. His dig total of 143 gives him an average of 1.66 digs per game. Five times this season he posted double-doubles by reaching double figures in digs and assists in the same contest. He matched his career-high with eight blocks in a win over Springfield College, one of nine matches in which he had at least four blocks. \"Matt has had a truly impressive season, and is absolutely deserving of this great honor,\" said Juniata Head Coach Jeremy Price. \"He\'s done a wonderful job directing our offense and has also shown the ability to contribute in all areas of the game. He plays with a maturity and competitiveness that is rare for an underclassman, and on a team with a lot of very talented players Matt has found a way to blend his abilities in with the team, and help raise the overall level of play. I think he\'s shown he\'s one of the top players in the country at any level.\" Only in his second season, Werle has already captured numerous accolades. Earlier in the week he was selected as a first-team AVCA Division III All-America for the first time, after being named to the All-America second team as a freshman. He was also selected as the EIVA Tait Division Player of the Week earlier in the year, and was tabbed as the Most Valuable Player of the Rutgers-Newark Golden Dome Classic. Werle was also a first-team EIVA Division III All-Star as a freshman. Werle has helped Juniata record a 28-21 record in his first two seasons. Juniata claimed its third-consecutive Molten Division III Men\'s Invitational Volleyball Championship in his freshman year, and will be looking for a fourth-consecutive title at the event this weekend. The Eagles have been ranked either first or second in the CSTV/AVCA Division III Top-15 poll every week during Werle\'s career. Juniata will begin its attempt at a fourth-straight Molten Championship on Friday when the second-seeded Eagles take on third-seed Springfield at 8 p.m. ###

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