UNION, NJ- The #1 Juniata men's volleyball team battled with Kean to force a fifth set but ultimately the host Cougars came out with the 3-2 win on Friday night at Harwood Arena. The Eagles suffer their first loss of the season and are now 7-1. The Cougars remain unbeaten at 6-0.
Joe Bortak (Jeannette, PA/Penn Trafford) led the offense with 12 kills. Paul Kuhn (York, PA/Central York) and Kyle Seeley (Ellicott City, MD/Howard) both tacked on 11 kills each. Justin Waldorf (Eden, NY/Eden) added eight kills. Matt Elias (Lansdale, PA/North Penn) totaled 48 assists. Defensively, Elias tallied 10 digs. Waldorf had seven digs while Kuhn chipped in six digs.
The Cougars took an early lead in the first set, 8-5, but the Eagles came back to tie it up at 9-all. Juniata then took its only lead of the set on a kill from Bortak to go up 10-9. An 11-3 run by Kean, however, proved to be the difference maker as the Cougars went ahead 20-13 on their way to a 25-20 win.
Juniata looked to bounce back in set two. After a 12-12 tie, Kean broke the stalemate with three straight points to go ahead 15-12. JC was able to keep it close but still trailed by one point 20-17. The Eagles rallied with six straight points to take the lead, 23-21. Kean was able to get a point on service error, but the same error on the Cougars followed by an attack error got the Eagles the last two points it needed to tie the match at one set each.
The Eagles led 4-3 in the third set but Kean was able to muster a 9-7 advantage. Juniata kept pace with its opponent and tied everything up at 12-all. The Cougars briefly held an advantage at 15-13 before the Eagles went up 16-15. Five points from Kean, however, gave the home squad a 20-16 lead. Juniata rallied to tie 21-21 and then 25-25 but Kean got the last two points it needed to go up 2-1 in the match.
The fourth set was all Juniata as it built up an early lead of 10-4. The Eagles led by as much as 20-10 and cruised to the win to force a fifth and deciding set. JC was up 9-6 and still had a two-point lead as late as 14-12. The Cougars were able to tie it at 14-all but a kill by Albert made it 15-14 Juniata. Kean got three straight points all on errors to take the set and pull off the upset.
The Eagles will look to regroup tomorrow with two matches on the docket. Juniata will play Lasell at 11 a.m. and end its day with a battle against #2 Stevens Tech at 3 p.m.