HUNTINGDON, Pa. – In thrilling fashion, the Juniata men's volleyball team came back from an 0-2 start to defeat Southern Virginia in five sets (23-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-22, 15-7), Friday evening at Memorial Gymnasium.
Quinn Peterson (Las Vegas, Nev./Shadow Ridge) had 19 kills, 11 digs, and five block assists. Matt Vasinko (Loyalhanna, Pa/Derry Area) totaled 12 kills and six digs, Joe Fick (Venetia, Pa. / Peters Township) had seven kills, one service ace, and one block assist, and David Hibner (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock Secondary) had six kills, three solo blocks, and seven block assists. Mahlon Bender (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) tallied six kills, three solo blocks and four block assists.
The Knights jumped out to a 0-2 lead in the first set before JC went on a three-point run, going up 5-4. Two Eagle errors put Southern Virginia back on top, but the teams continued to trade points back and forth, neither having more than a one-point advantage until the Knights began to pull away at 12-14. A kill from Bender put JC back within one at 16-17, but the Eagles could not retake the lead, ultimately dropping the set, 23-25.
JC captured the first point of set two, but Southern Virginia rebounded fast as the two teams once again were neck and neck. Kills from Peterson and Fick coupled by a bad set from the Knights gave the Eagles an 8-5 advantage. Southern Virginia logged a kill and two JC errors had the teams ties at 9-9 before the Knights gradually started to pull ahead. The Eagles gained ground after a kill from William Hafen (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman) and two Southern Virginia errors, but neither team could find more than a one-point lead. At 23-23, Juniata called a timeout, and Peterson came back with a kill to make it 24-23. The Knights responded with three straight kills, taking the set.
The Eagles narrowly won set three, again going back and forth with the Knights. Three straight Southern Virginia kills forced a JC timeout, but the Knights cruised to an 5-11 lead. Vasinko logged two kills to help narrow the gap to 11-14, but Southern Virginia jumped ahead, 11-17. Peterson and Vasinko kills, alongside several Southern Virginia errors got the Eagles within one at 20-21. The teams traded points until JC prevailed, 25-23.
The fourth set was much of the same with the two teams continuously putting pressure on one another. The Eagles went on a four-point run with kills from Bender and Peterson and took an 8-4 advantage. JC soared ahead to a 13-6 lead, but the Knights battled back to get within one at 15-14. With Juniata at set point at 24-22, a wild back and forth rally ensued, which included impressive digs by both teams before Bender smashed a ball from the middle to force a decisive fifth set.
JC took the 5-1 lead to start the fifth set and did not allow for the Knights to get closer than three. At 11-6, the Eagles forced a Southern Virginia timeout, but the Knights were unable to make a comeback. A Hibner kill got the Eagles to match point and a Southern Virginia attack error ended the match, sealing the JC victory.
Juniata returns to the court Saturday at 4:00pm to face Eastern Mennonite at Memorial Gymnasium.