(Posted November 15, 2007)

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - The Juniata College women's volleyball team fought back an Amherst College challenge in the second and third games before putting away the Lord Jeffs 3-0, in a quarterfinal matchup at the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship in Bloomington, Ill. Game scores were 30-8, 30-22, and 30-21. Amherst (30-5) briefly held leads over Juniata in both the second and third games, with the Eagles successfully countering to secure the wins. "Amherst College did a good job of coming back and challenging our block,\" said Juniata head coach Larry Bock. "It (a quarterfinal matchup) is not an unusual circumstance for Juniata, but may be for Amherst. But that's the best team we've seen come out of New England since the Wellesley teams from six or seven years ago.\" In game two, Amherst and Juniata were deadlocked at 17-17 before the Eagles began to put some distance between themselves and the Lord Jeffs. Juniata pulled ahead with five points off serves by Jessica Ritchey (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim), with Erin Albert (Philipsburg, Pa./Philipsburg-Osceola) contributing a pair of kills during the run that left the Eagles with a 23-17 lead and control of the game. Amber Thomas (Ephrata, Pa./Conestoga Valley) closed out game two with a pair of kills. Thomas picked up six more kills in game three, as the Eagles had to rally from an early deficit to pick up the win. Trailing 9-5, Juniata began its move with a pair of points during service by Molly Sollenberger (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley). After the two squads traded side-outs that left the scoreboard knotted at 10-10, the Eagles took the lead for good with three more points with Albert serving, including a kill and block assist by Kristin Noetzel (Closter, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) and an ace by Albert. The Eagles expanded their lead slowly over until the score reached 24-20, when Juniata widened its lead thanks to a pair of Amherst attack errors, then later through a pair of kills by Johnston. A block by Albert left Juniata sitting on match point, and a service ace by Megan Sollenberger (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) clinched the quarterfinal win. Juniata dominated game one, with the Eagles pulling away from a 5-3 lead and eventually posting the lopsided 30-8 win. The Blue and Gold posted eight straight points off Megan Sollenberger's service starting at 7-4, effectively taking charge of the game. Albert had a pair of blocks during the run, but most of the damage to Amherst was self-inflicted as the Lord Jeffs handed the Eagles three points on hitting errors and another on a net violation. The Eagles wrapped up the win with three points during service by Beth Kozak (Huntingdon, Pa./Huntingdon Area), with Paige Johnston (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) logging the final two kills. "I thought our team played well today,\" said Bock. "We got a couple of key kills from Erin Albert in the middle, and Amber Thomas was Amber Thomas.\" Thomas led Juniata with 18 kills, with Albert chipping in with 15. Megan Sollenberger recorded 21 digs, while Kozak set 49 assists. Juniata tallied nine team blocks, including four total blocks by Albert and Johnston and three by Noetzel. Amherst was led by Jaclyn DeMais with 13 kills, and Rachel Yorke with 17 digs. For the match, Juniata had a .371 attack percentage, including a .533 clip in the first game, while holding the Lord Jeffs to a .071 hitting percentage for the match. The Eagles (37-4) now advance to Friday's national semifinals, where they will face the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (35-4) at 4:30 p.m. Central Time. Friday's meeting between the Eagles and the Warhawks will be the third this season, with Juniata winning both previous contests. "Both teams know each other real well,\" said Bock. "There's not going to be a lot of tactical surprises.\" -30-

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