(Posted February 23, 2010)

LORETTO, Pa. -- Juniata College looked pretty good in the first set, as it successfully fought off a challenge from host Saint Francis University to open the two schools' EIVA Tait Division men's volleyball match on Tuesday night at DeGol Arena.

Then, set two started.

Juniata hit just .068 over the final three sets, all won by the Red Flash, and dropped a 3-1 decision to its archrivals from Loretto. Set scores for Saint Francis were 33-35, 30-17, 30-23, and 30-17.

The Eagles (4-6, 1-2 EIVA Tait) hit .132 for the entire match, with that figure buoyed by a .260 hitting percentage in the first set. Saint Francis (8-6, 1-2 EIVA Tait) countered with a .392 hitting percentage, and outblocked Juniata 13.0 to 2.0 for the match.

Outside hitter Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) and middle Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) each logged 13 kills, with Wanner hitting .111 for the match and Halteman putting up a .357 attack clip. Wanner had one of the few offensive bright spots for the Eagles, logging three of Juniata's five service aces.

Libero Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) sprawled for 15 of Juniata's 46 digs. Sophomores Mike Kraft (York, Pa./Eastern York) and John Almquist (York, Pa./Central York) shared the setting duties, with Kraft finishing with 29 assists to Almquists' 12.

Saint Francis' two outside hitters dominated play for the Red Flash: Jordan Varee had 23 kills on 42 swings with three blocks, while Nick Rivett had 20 kills on 40 swings and added two blocks. Middle hitter Pete Freyer finished with 12 total blocks, to go with nine kills.

Juniata took set one in extra points, after holding a four-point lead at 16-12 earlier in the set. SFU eventually caught the Eagles at 17-17 on a kill by Alex Fortney, after the Red Flash took five points in a six-point stretch. The lead see-sawed between the Eagles and the Red Flash all the way to 33-33, when a Freyer service error and a Ben Wolff (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) kill allowed Juniata to claim the set.

Set two looked like it would be another neck-and-neck affair, with Juniata trailing by one point at 6-5 after a Halteman kill. The Red Flash responded with a sideout kill by Varee, and then scored the next three points off Freyer's serve. That run left Saint Francis with a 10-5 advantage.

SFU blew the second set wide open starting at 16-11, scoring eight straight points to grab a 24-11 lead. The Red Flash's Ryan Williams had two service aces during the run, and Saint Francis won four straight points on blocks, with Freyer involved in all four with two block solos.

A five-point run in the third set off the serve of Fortney helped seal that frame for the Red Flash, and a six-point run during the fourth set allowed Saint Francis to close out the match.

Juniata remains on the road this weekend, facing Rutgers-Newark on Friday night in Newark, N.J. at 7:00 p.m. The Eagles will then play an important match in Molten Invitational qualifying on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. against New York University.


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