DIII No. 3 Juniata Slams Door on Mercyhurst Comeback, 3-2
Huntingdon, Pa. - This was a match that had a little of everything.
A blowout, a marathon, and a pair of close games were all required before the Juniata College men's volleyball team put away up-start and winless Mercyhurst College, 3-1, in front of 450 fans Friday night at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center in Huntingdon, Pa.
Game scores were 30-22, 37-39, 30-26, and 30-28.
The Eagles (2-0) looked like they might cruise to an easy victory over Mercyhurst (0-6), gaining as much as a nine-point advantage over the Lakers in game one, 24-15, following a kill by Dan Powers (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township). The Lakers chiseled away at that margin with a kill and a pair of blocks by Dave Newman in the latter stages, but Juniata posted three of the final four points of the game to seal the win, including a game-winning service ace by Matt Werle (Meadville, Pa./Meadville).
Game two was a much different affair, with six lead changes before Mercyhurst squeezed out the win. Juniata held a 26-21 lead in game two, following three straight Mercyhurst errors off the service of Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield). The Lakers outscored Juniata 8-3 over the next 11 points, tying the game at 29-29 on a Juniata attack error.
Control of the game see-sawed until 37-37, when Mercyhurst closed out the game on a ball handling error and attack error by the Eagles.
The final two games were nearly identical to each other, with Juniata seeing a comfortable lead over the Lakers evaporate before the Eagles would wrap-up the win.
In game three, Juniata stretched a 20-18 lead to 24-19, with a pair of Mercyhurst attack errors off the service of Matt Fritz (Churchville, Md./John Carroll), followed by a side-out kill by Wanner and a block by Powers and Wanner.
However, Mercyhurst got right back into the game on a David Hatten kill and three straight attack errors by Juniata, before the Eagles stopped the rally at 25-23 on a Wanner kill. The teams traded side-outs before Werle's service got the Eagles two more points, including another one of Werle's game-high four aces on the night to make the score 28-24 in Juniata's favor. After three side-out points, Wanner closed out the game three victory with a kill off a set by Werle.
The pattern continued in game four, with Juniata breaking open what had been a tight contest to eventually gaining a 24-20 lead over the Lakers. Mercyhurst again battled its way back into the game, scoring four straight points to tie the game at 24-24. A rarely interrupted string of side-outs pushed the score to 27-26, when a side-out kill and service ace by Fritz put Juniata at match point. The Eagles required three attempts at the match-winning point, eventually finishing off the Lakers with another Wanner kill.
Wanner finished the match with a game-high 22 kills and .238 attack percentage, while Powers and Fritz each tallied 13 kills. Werle logged 60 assists, with Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) recording a game-high 10 digs. Powers led the Eagle with six total blocks.
Newman and Tim Wagner paced the Mercyhurst offense with 11 kills, with Bryan Ritter finishing with 10. Hatten had 47 assists and a team-high six digs for the Lakers. Newman also recorded 11 total blocks, with Mercyhurst out-blocking Juniata 14.0 to 9.5.
Juniata resumes its weekend home stand on Saturday, Jan. 26, when it hosts Mt. Olive College (N.C.) at 7:00 p.m. at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.
Article courtesy of Juniata athletics.