GREENVILLE, Pa. – Juniata College men's volleyball saw its NCAA post-season hopes narrow dramatically with a 3-2 loss to third-ranked UC-Santa Cruz, in Saturday afternoon's Continental Volleyball Conference Tournament semifinals at Thiel College.
UC-Santa Cruz (15-6) advanced to the championship match with a 25-19, 25-21, 22-25, 23-25, 15-12 win over Juniata (27-10). The Banana Slugs will meet Carthage College in Saturday night's championship match.
Juniata was led by middle Ben Wolff (Meadville, Pa./Meadville) and Paul Kuhn (York, Pa./Central York) with 11 kills each, with Wolff also recording four total blocks to finish with a team high 13.5 points. Outside hitter Ross Madden (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) had 10 kills with 11 digs, a service ace, and a block for the Eagles. Middle Joe Bortak (Jeannette, Pa./Penn Trafford) also had 10 kills with four total blocks.
The Eagles hit .245 for the match, slightly out-performing UC-Santa Cruz with its .242 hitting percentage. However the Banana Slugs totaled 12.0 total blocks for the match, while Juniata finished with 8.5 blocks.
UC-Santa Cruz was led by Salvatore La Cavera's 23 kills on 58 attacks and a .310 hitting percentage, with four total blocks. Shane Yablonka was the only other Banana Slug player to post a double-digit kill total with 10 terminations. Will Klepac had five kills, but was a big factor at the net for the Banana Slugs with six total blocks. Thomas Davidson charted five total blocks for UC-Santa Cruz, and put away five kills.
The semifinal loss to UC-Santa Cruz in all likelihood eliminated Juniata from consideration for the NCAA Division III Men's Volleyball Championship; the nine-team field for the NCAA tournament will be announced Sunday, April 15, at 8:30 p.m. on the NCAA's website, www.ncaa.com.
Juniata remains a possibility for the ECAC Division III South Region Tournament. The four teams for that event, which will be played on Saturday, April 21, will be announced on Monday, April 16.