Eagles Fall to No. 1 Springfield in National Championship

Eagles Fall to No. 1 Springfield in National Championship

By: Jennifer Jones
Director of Sports Information
jonesj@juniata.edu • juniatasports.net
Photo: JD Cavrich Photography

HUNTINGDON, Pa. – In a back and forth battle of the bigs, No. 3 Juniata College men's volleyball could not find a way past No. 1 Springfield College in the 2014 NCAA Division III men's volleyball national championship on Sunday in the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.  The two-time defending national champions won 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-21) to improve to 27-8 overall.  The Eagles finished their season 29-5, setting program records for most wins and fewest losses in a single season.

 

"We were just a little short today," said head coach Pat Shawaryn.  "It's a great team we played today.  Two-time national champ and they played like it today.  I'd love to do it all over again because I know these guys are good enough to hoist that.  Today was not our day."

 

Redshirt junior Alex McColgin (Buffalo, N.Y./Hamburg) and junior Paul Kuhn (York, Pa./Central York) led the team with 12 and 11 kills, respectively.  For their play during the weekend, they were named to the all-tournament team.  Junior Joe Bortak (Jeannette, Pa./Penn Trafford) and sophomore Chad Albert (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) remained big at the net on defense, combining for eight blocks in the title match.

 

Freshman Kameron Beans (Annapolis, Md./Broadneck) made a big stand in the national tournament.  After having appeared in the Eagles matches primarily as a utility player, he made his fourth and fifth collegiate starts in the semifinals and national championship.  The outside hitter finished fourth on the team in total kills behind Kuhn, Bortak, and McColgin during the tournament.  Sophomore setter Matt Elias (Lansdale, Pa./North Penn) also had a standout performance.  Averaging over 10 assists per set to lead the team, he also was second in digs, averaging over 1.5 per set.

 

Between the two squads, there are 17 student-athletes over 6-3 making for a big front line on both sides of the net. The even matchup was evident from the beginning of set one.  Juniata scored first off a kill from Kuhn.  And Springfield responded with a block by all-tournament middle Jimmy O'Leary and tournament most valuable player Luis Vega.  The Eagles led by as many as two points before Springfield tied up at six all off a kill.

 

The teams alternated lead until the set was tied for a 10th time at 14-all. An Eagle attack error gave Springfield the lead going into the media timeout and the Pride used it to their advantage.  Juniata was unable to tie the set up for an 11th time as Springfield slowly pulled away for the 25-20 win.

 

Juniata jumped out to a 3-0 lead early on, but set two was all Vega and O'Leary.  Vega led with seven kills, and O'Leary was right behind him and flawless, getting six kills on six swings with zero errors.  After coming back and tying the set up for a second time, Springfield used back-to-back blocks by Vega and a kill from Sean Zuvich to take the 7-4 lead.  Shawaryn called timeout and Beans came through with a kill to end the Pride's run.

 

The Eagles clawed back to tie it up off a block by Beans and Albert.  The score would be tied seven more times before a series of Eagle errors gave Springfield the 20-17 lead.  Juniata held on, but three big swings from O'Leary put the Pride on set point and Sean Peterson sealed it with a kill.

 

Springfield came out strong in set three and never looked back.  The Eagles pulled within one (22-21) down the stretch, but could not complete the comeback.

 

This was Juniata's first appearance in an NCAA Championship.  They have earned six national titles in the program's history with Shawaryn being a part of the 2004 championship.  The Eagles are now 2-2 all-time in the NCAA tournament.

 

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