DIII No. 1 Juniata Clinches No. 2 Seed for EIVA Tournament With Win over George Mason

4/5/2009

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HUNTINGDON, Pa. - Juniata College's best finish in the history of the EIVA Tournament is the semifinal round, which it has reached three times in program history.

This season, the semifinal round is where the Eagles will start.

Juniata clinched the no. 2 seed for the EIVA Tournament, and an accompanying bye into the semifinal round, with a 3-1 victory over George Mason University, Saturday afternoon at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.

Set scores for Juniata were 23-30, 30-20, 30-20, and 30-21.

Juniata (14-7) completes its EIVA slate with an 8-4 record, matching the 2005 squad for the program's best conference record.

"To do what no other Juniata team has done by securing the number two seed, given the history of this program, is an impressive accomplishment. But we want to go where no Juniata team has gone and that's advance beyond the semifinals," said Juniata head coach Jeremy Price. "It's not easy to make history in this program, but I think that's what this team has done."

Four Juniata players finished the match with double-digit kill totals, paced by junior middle hitter Evan Halteman's (Perkiomenville, Pa./Christopher Dock) 15 kills on 26 swings for a .462 attack percentage. Junior outside hitter Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) and sophomore opposite Chris Vrooman (Baden, Pa./Ambridge Area) each had 14 kills, while senior middle Dan Powers (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) notched 11 kills on 15 swings.

Senior setter Matt Werle (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) recorded 50 assists in his final match in the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center, giving him 4,487 for his career.

George Mason (10-12, 3-4 EIVA Tait) was led by Kyle Gramit with 18 kills on 47 swings, however Gramit also tallied 11 attack errors and finished with a .149 attack percentage. Ryan Kwiatkowski was the only other Patriot player with a double-digit kill total, totaling 10 kills on 22 swings.

Juniata outhit GMU .323 to .136, with the Patriots handing the Eagles 30 points on attack errors. However George Mason outdug Juniata, 41-39, and controlled the net with 15.5 total team blocks to Juniata's 8.5.

After the Eagles dropped a 30-23 decision to the Patriots in the first set, the turning point came early in set two.

Following a side out kill by Wanner to take a 4-2 lead, Juniata scored seven straight off the serve of Vrooman. Halteman had two kills and a block assist during that run, which left Juniata with a 12-2 lead and left Mason rattled.

"After the first set I was a little concerned, because that wasn't the team we've been playing like for the past few matches," said Price. "But Vrooman's serving helped us put the game away early, and I don't think they (George Mason) ever recovered. They began making a lot of substitutions and changing their lineup, and changing who was attacking and who wasn't."

Another five-point run late in set three helped Juniata control that set as well. A Patriot attack error gave Juniata a side out point at 18-15, and Juniata added to that lead with four more points off the service of Dan Follett (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley). The Eagles kept at least seven points of separation the rest of the way, with an attack error by GMU's Joe Norton allowing Juniata to post the set win.

Juniata jumped out to a 4-1 lead in set four, and managed to slowly pull away from George Mason over the course of the set. A Josh Mummert (Spring Grove, Pa./Spring Grove) block solo on match point finally finished off the Patriots to complete the win.

Juniata will close out the regular season on Wednesday, April 8, at 7:00 p.m., when the Eagles face East Stroudsburg University in a match played at Hempfield High School in Landisville, Pa. The Eagles will then prepare for the Molten Division III Invitational, which begins play on Friday, April 17, at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J.

Article courtesy of Juniata athletics.

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