November 13, 2011

Juniata falls short in final regional match against Eastern

ASTON, Pa. – For the first time in the Juniata women's volleyball 31-year program history, Juniata walked away from the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball final round of regionals with a loss. Juniata gave-up a 3-1 decision to Eastern University in the Mirenda Center on Neumann University campus Sunday evening.  

Set scores for the match were 25-18, 18-25, 34-36, and 26-28.

Juniata (27-8) came out guns blazing as the team hit for a .314 attack percentage in the first set.

Sophomore Rachelle Wiegand (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) served during Juniata's eight point scoring run that included two junior Kelsey Fuller (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) terminations, a pair of senior Amanda Schmidt (Boswell, Pa./North Star) kills, with sophomore Courtney Lydick (McKean, Pa./General McLane) and sophomore Courtney Greenberg (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers) throwing in one kill apiece.  Wiegand also served up an ace, and by the end of her service the Eagles were leading 16-6.

It wasn't until the second set that the screaming stands full of fans wearing Eastern's maroon really started to have an impact on the mood that lay over the gym.

The feel and momentum was changing in favor of Eastern (35-2), as the Eagles swung for just .081 in the second set, while Eastern posted a .257 attack percentage.

Juniata fought back in the third set and tried to reclaim the momentum in the match. The end of the third set was full of back-and-forth action between the two teams for the set winning point.

The Eagles battled from behind to tie the third set at 23 apiece, and from that point forward the score would be tied 11 more times before Eastern was able to score two points to take the set 36-34. 

The Eagles looked as if they were going to send the match into the fifth game when Juniata reach set-point with a 24-17 lead. However, Eastern hung around and inched its way back to tie Juniata at 25 each.

The Eagles regained the lead at 26-25 before an Eastern kill tied the match and another Eastern termination and service ace sealed the win for the Eastern Eagles.

Schmidt led Juniata with 21 kills with just three errors on 32 total attacks for a stellar .562 hitting percentage. Schmidt's 21-termination effort was the most she has posted in a match this season.

Wiegand, an All-Tournament Team honoree from this weekend, recorded a double-double day with 16 kills and 15 digs. Fuller also had a double-double match as she posted 14 kills and sprawled for 16 digs.

Greenberg assisted a match-high 61 times for Juniata, while senior Libby Morrison (Portland, Ore./Oregon Episcopal School), also an All-Tournament Team selection, charted a match-high 44 digs, the most she has logged in any match this season. 

Juniata ended its season with a 27-8 final overall record and still remains undefeated in conference play since 1981. Eastern continues in NCAA tournament action and will travel to St. Louis, Mo. to join the final eight teams in Division III for the national title.