HUNTINGDON, Pa.-The Juniata men's volleyball team dropped a 3-2 (25-22, 16-25, 19-25, 29-27, 10-15) heartbreaker to Eastern Mennonite in the Continental Volleyball Conference quarterfinals, Tuesday evening.
The first set was a back and forth affair that saw neither team led by more than three at any point. Both offenses were rolling as each team hit a sparkling .577 with 17 kills in the opener. With the score 22-21, Matt Vasinko (Loyalhanna, Pa./Derry Area) tallied one of his season-high 16 kills to double the Eagle lead. EMU tallied the next point before a kill from Quinn Peterson (Las Vegas, Nev./Shadow Ridge) followed by a Vasinko ace sealed set one for JC, 25-22.
The second set saw the Royals continue their dominant hitting as they hit .560, but Juniata could not keep up. One of Mahlon Bender's (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) six kills brought the Eagles within two at 8-10, but EMU rattled off 11-5 run to push their lead to 13-21. EMU took set two 16-25.
Set three saw the Royals go up 2-7, but Juniata battled back. With the score at 8-13, two EMU attack errors, one of David Hibner's (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock Secondary) eight kills followed by one of his two solo blocks and another EMU attack error brought the Eagles within one at 12-13. A few points later, a kill from Michael Young (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake Village) made it 14-15. EMU went on a 6-2 run as they went up 16-21. Two Hibner kills and a block by Young and Hibner brought the Eagles back within two, 19-21. Juniata got no closer as the Royals took set three, 19-25.
Set four saw the Juniata fall behind 8-14 midway through. A block by Peterson and Bender, a kill and two blocks from Vasinko caused EMU to call timeout to try and stop the Eagles. Juniata kept coming as a EMU ball handling error and a kill from Peterson made it 13-14. After an Eagle service error, a kill from Vasinko and an ace from Peterson paired with an EMU attack error gave JC their first lead of the set at 16-15. The teams tied 10 times over the next several points as both teams made several outrageous diving digs and put down some massive kills. With the score at 27-27, Bender and Young blocked an EMU attack and Vasinko got a kill from back as Juniata forced set five.
The final set saw JC fall behind 3-6, but again they responded. A kill from Bender, a Royal attack error, a kill by Sean Cavanagh (Cranberry Twp./ Seneca Valley) and a block by Bender and Peterson put the Eagles up 7-6. After an EMU kill, kills by Peterson and Vasinko made it 9-7 as Juniata looked to complete a postseason comeback against EMU for the second straight seasons. EMU held strong as they scored seven straight points to take match point 9-14. A service error made it 10-14 before William Ragland of EMU put down his career-high 27th kill to end the match.
Juniata is now 19-13.