(Posted February 13, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College men's volleyball battled in three down-to-the-wire sets and came away with a victory every time on its way to a 3-0 EIVA Tait Division win over George Mason University, Saturday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

Set scores for the Eagles were 30-28, 32-30, and 30-28.

Senior outside hitter Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) finished with 21 kills on 40 swings for a .350 hitting percentage, and also turned up seven digs and had three block assists.

Wanner led a contingent of four Juniata (4-3, 1-1 EIVA Tait) hitters with double-digit dig totals: senior middle Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) logged 11 kills against just two errors on 24 swings, while outside hitter Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./Ambridge Area) and middle Ben Wolff (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) had 10 kills each.

Setter Mike Kraft (York, Pa./Eastern York) tallied 46 assists while running a Juniata offense that hit an efficient .342 for the match -- its best single match attack percentage this season.

Defensively, libero Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) sprawled for 15 digs, posting his second straight night with a double figure dig total after turning up 14 digs on Friday versus Rutgers-Newark.

"It was definitely our best offensive performance of the season thus far," said Juniata head coach Jeremy Price. "Zach Wanner was really efficient and did a nice job, and I thought Mike Kraft did a nice job as well."

"We spread the ball around, but still got the ball to the hot hitters like Zach (Wanner) and Ben (Wolff), who hit .471 tonight. And for Anthony Damiano, 15 digs in a three-set match is really outstanding," said Price.

George Mason (3-3, 1-1 EIVA Tait) was paced offensively by outside hitter Andrew Dentler with 20 kills on 46 swings with nine errors, while fellow outside Dave Reilly put down 10 kills on 21 swings and hit .286 for the match.

Overall, Juniata outdug George Mason, 39-33, and outblocked the Patriots, 7.0 to 6.0.

All three sets were neck-and-neck affairs, with Juniata managing to squeeze out points at the end to clinch the win over a hard-hitting Patriot squad.

Juniata saw a 28-25 lead slip away in the first set, as GMU tied things up on kills by Ben Nichols and Dentler, followed by a Wolff attack error. The Eagles stopped the momentum with a timeout, and regained the lead and the serve with a side-out kill by Wanner. A Dentler attack error while trying to return John Almquist's (York, Pa./Central York) serve allowed the Eagles to clinch the win.

George Mason was guilty of letting a late lead slip away in the second set, only this time Juniata was able to make the Patriots pay for their miscues.

With Nichols serving on set point for the Patriots with a 29-27 lead, Wolff put down a kill to bring the Eagles to within one. Juniata's Halteman and Wanner combined on the block of Eric Lucas' attack to tie the set at 29-all, but George Mason took advantage of a Cameron Andrew (Dallas, Texas/Greenhill School) service error to serve for set point #2.

Back-to-back kills by Halteman put the Eagles on set point, 31-30, and Juniata closed out the set two win with a Dentler attack error.

After being tied with George Mason as late as 21-21 in the third set, a Dan Follett (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) block and a Dentler attack error allowed Juniata to grab a 23-21 lead. The Eagles stayed ahead of the Patriots the rest of the way, reaching match point at 29-27 on a Wolff kill. A side-out kill by Dentler cut Juniata's lead to one point and threatened to send the third set into extra points, but a Wanner kill off the serve of George Mason's Reilly ended the match.

The win marked Juniata's third straight victory over the Patriots, after the Eagles swept both matches last season.

Juniata returns to the court next Friday, Feb. 19, when the Eagles host 12th-ranked Loyola University (Ill.) at 7:00 p.m. at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center. The Juniata-Loyola match is the first of back-to-back matches against ranked Division I/II opponents for the Eagles next weekend; Juniata will play host to 15th-ranked Lewis University on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 7:00 p.m.


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