(Posted February 11, 2009)

LORETTO, Pa. -- A Juniata College come-back bid against St. Francis University came up short as the Eagle men's volleyball team dropped a 3-1 decision to the Red Flash, in an EIVA Tait Division clash Wednesday night in Loretto, Pa. Set scores for St. Francis were 30-21, 30-25, 24-30, and 30-27.

Junior outside hitter Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) had 17 kills for the Eagles on 49 swings, but committed nine errors and finished with a .163 attack percentage. Junior middle hitter Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) had the best performance of any of the Juniata hitters, crushing 11 kills on 18 swings with only one error for a .556 attack percentage.

Matt Werle (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) set up 45 assists for the Eagles and turned up 11 digs, while libero Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) also finished with 11 digs.

St. Francis junior Jordan Varee racked up an impressive 25 kills on 36 swings with six errors, and Pete Freyer added another 15 kills on 23 swings.

Juniata (4-3, 2-2 EIVA Tait) dropped the first two sets before beginning to rally in set three.

With the score tied 18-18, the Eagles took the lead on a Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./Ambridge Area) kill followed by a Varee attack error. After four straight side out points left Juniata's lead at 22-20, the Eagles widened their lead to four points on a kill by Dan Powers (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) followed by a Red Flash hitting error. Another four side out points advanced the Juniata lead to 26-22, and a Wanner kill expanded the Eagle advantage to five points. The two teams exchanged four more side out points, until Juniata clinched the set with a Wanner service ace - one of his two on the night.

Juniata made a late challenge to steal set four from under St. Francis, but the Red Flash managed to hang on for the win.

The Red Flash (6-3, 3-2 EIVA Tait) broke a 19-19 deadlock with a block by Alex Fortney and Patrick McManamon, followed by a Wanner attack error. Side out kills by Juniata's Powers and St. Francis' Shane Conley pushed the Red Flash lead to 22-20, and the Red Flash proceeded to rattle off three straight points to take a 25-20 advantage.

A Vrooman kill cut the margin to 25-21, and three straight side out points moved the score along to 27-22. Back-to-back kills by Halteman and Dan Follett (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) cut the St. Francis lead to 27-24, but the run was cut short by a Mike Kraft (York, Pa./Eastern York) service error.

A side out kill by Wanner gave Juniata the serve trailing only 28-25, and a service ace by Alex Bahn (Seven Valleys, Pa./Dallastown) trimmed the Red Flash lead to 28-26. A St. Francis attack error cut the margin to a single point, and the Red Flash called a timeout to regroup. Coming out of the break, St. Francis scored a kill by Varee to go to game point, and a Powers attack error allowed the Red Flash to complete the victory.

Juniata will be back in action on Thursday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center in Huntingdon. The Eagles, ranked third in this week's Bison/AVCA Division III coaches poll, will take on fourth-ranked Stevens Institute of Technology at 7:00 p.m.


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