(Posted April 13, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - The 2007 Molten Division III Men\'s Invitational Volleyball Championship got off to an amazing start as top-seed Carthage College outlasted fourth seed Stevens Institute of Technology 3-2 in a semifinal match on Friday evening in Huntingdon. Carthage advances to the championship match on Saturday where it will take on the winner of the second semifinal between Juniata and Springfield. In just their second appearance in the tournament, Carthage (25-7) is making its second trip to the finals as they won the match by scored of 30-27, 29-31, 32-30 and 15-13. In a match that went back-and-forth throughout, the Red Men held off a late charge to earn the win in game five. Carthage led 8-3 following a kill from Shane Olson and seemed to be in control of the final game after a Matt Ulmer kill that made the score 10-4. A serving run from Michael Schulte then sparked Stevens, which stormed back within a point at 13-12 on a kill from Schulte. But Stevens then committed its 20th service error of the match to put Carthage at match point. Scott Stoner staved off defeat with a kill for the Ducks, but Rob Koehler followed with a kill to close out the match. Koehler finished with a team-high 14 kills for Carthage which had four players reach double figures in kills. T.J. Bellei added 13 for the Red Men, while Juri Veldre and Olson added 11 and 10 respectively. Ulmer passed out 49 assists in the contest and had one of his team\'s two serve aces. Bellei led his team with eight blocks, and Olson was the leader with 10 digs. Stoner led all players with 22 kills and a team-high 10 digs for Stevens (33-8) which led Carthage in nearly every category, but was hurt by its 20 serve errors. Tomas Bochicchio finished the match with 17 kills and a team-high two aces. Joe Trinsey and Andrew Cranford both had 13 kills, and Will Foley added 10. Schulte passed out 67 assists in the match and helped the Ducks to a .248 hitting percentage. Cranford led all players with nine blocks as Stevens posted 18.5 blocks as a team in the match. In game one, Carthage pulled out to an early lead, before the Ducks found their footing and tied the score at 13 following consecutive kills fromStoner and Foley. Following a Carthage time out, the Red Men took control ripping off five straight points highlighted by a pair of double blocks from Bellei and Veldre pushing the top seed in front 19-14. Stevens made a late run, pulling within two points at 29-27 following a Stoner and Cranford double block but Bellei closed the game with a kill. Stevens held the lead throughout game two, but Carthage closed the gap, eventually tying the score at 21 on a Koehler solo block. The Ducks responded with a 4-0 run, highlighted by solo blocks from Trinsey and Stoner. Carthage hung tough, fighting off two game points to tie the game at 29. Stevens recovered and sealed the game with a Bochicchio kill and a double block from Stoner and Cranford. Game three was a back-and-forth affair after Stevens overcame an early four-point deficit to tie the game at 17. From there, neither team held a lead of more than two points the rest of the game. A block from Cranford and Schulte helped put Stevens up 26-24, before kills from Koehler and Allan Russo helped spark a 5-1 Carthage run that put the Red Men at game point. A serve error and attack error tied the score at 30, but Stevens then missed its next serve and Carthage finished off the game with a double block from Bellei and Ulmer. Rather than fold in their tents after the tough game-four loss, Stevens rolled out to a big lead and never slowed up to win game four. A kill from Bower pulled Carthage to within two at 12-10, but Stevens then reeled off seven of the next nine points behind two aces from Bochicchio. The Red Men got no closer than six points the rest of the was as a kill from Stoner finished out the win. Molten U.S.A., Inc. is the "Official Volleyball of the Molten Division III Men's Invitational Volleyball Championship," as well as the "Official ball of the AVCA." Sports Imports is the "Official Net System Supplier of the Molten Division III Men's Invitational Volleyball Championship." Mizuno USA is the "Official Apparel & Shoe Sponsor of the Division III Men's Invitational Volleyball Championship.\" ###

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