DIII No. 3 Juniata Outlasts NJIT for 3-1 Victory
Newark, N.J. - Juniata College got a match-high 20 kills from sophomore Zach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) and defeated NJIT, 3-1, in a pivotal Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Tait Division tilt Saturday night in the Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center in Newark, N.J.
The win allowed Juniata (9-11) to even its EIVA Tait Division record at 5-5, while NJIT fall to 3-7 in EIVA Tait competition. Both teams have secured berths in the EIVA Tournament.
Juniata took the first game with relative ease, 30-23, before the Highlanders answered with a 30-21 win in game two. NJIT appeared poised to take the third set, but Juniata rallied for a 31-29 win. The fourth game was close until late, before Juniata made a final surge to win, 30-25, clinching the match victory.
After Wanner, Juniata got 12 kills and just one error in 20 attacks (.550 attack percentage) from Dan Powers (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) while Matt Fritz (Churchville, Md./John Carroll) added 11 kills.
Matt Werle (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) had 48 assists and took part in a strong floor defense for the Eagles, collecting 11 digs. Libero Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa./Manheim Township) had a match-best 13 digs and Fritz chipped in 10. Powers topped the Juniata blockers with three block assists.
NJIT had a 9-5 blocking advantage and an 8-2 edge in service aces, but Juniata was more efficient on the attack (.282 team hitting percentage to .203 for the Highlanders) and the Eagles also thwarted more than their share of NJIT attacks with high quality digs.
Leonardo Paludo led the Highlanders with 17 kills, followed by Amobi Armstrong (13 kills) and Eduardo Welter (11).
Rodrigo Correa set 46 assists for NJIT and shared match serving honors with teammate Greg Wagner, as each man collected two aces. Chris Siddayao's 12 digs led the Highlanders, followed by Paludo's 10. Charles Bell had four blocks (one solo, three assists) and Wagner finished with four block assists.
Juniata took a quick 8-4 lead to start the match, before NJIT pulled back to within a point, 9-10, on an ace by Bell. But Juniata never relinquished lead and took complete control with an 8-1 spurt from 15-14 to 23-15.
The Highlanders dominated the second game throughout, building an early 10-4 lead and never leading by fewer than five points for the rest of the game. The third game was the closest of the four, but NJIT appeared to gain the upper hand with 4-1 spurt that put the Highlanders on top, 20-16. However, Juniata would not go away and came back to tie the score at 25 after trailing, 18-22.
There were five ties from point 25 on, but the Eagles broke a 29-29 tie and won on a kill by Wanner and an NJIT attack error.
The fourth game was somewhat similar to the third, as NJIT went up, 12-9, after a service ace for Welter. But Juniata spurted again, 7-3, and claimed the lead, 16-15. NJIT nonetheless led as late as 22-21, but Juniata scored five straight points--three on Highlander attack errors to take control for good.
Juniata will close out its regular season this weekend with another two-match road trip, with both contests against EIVA Tait rivals. The Eagles will face Princeton on Friday, April 4, followed by a season-ending clash at East Stroudsburg on Saturday, April 5.
Article courtesy of Juniata athletics.