HUNTINGDON, PA- The 2015 Juniata men's volleyball season began on Friday afternoon in the first match the Juniata College Invitational. The Eagles had no problem with visiting Hilbert as they handled the Hawks 3-0 (25-8, 25-13, 25-18).
Paul Kuhn (York, PA/Central York) tallied six kills and three digs for Juniata. Mark Feiler (Mountville, PA/Hempfield) tacked on five digs. Chris Heron (Las Vegas, NV/Arbor View) and Justin Waldorf (Eden, NY/Eden) both added six digs. Joe Bortak (Jeannette, PA/Penn Trafford) and Chad Albert (Cranberry Township, PA/Seneca Valley) contributed three assisted blocks. Matt Elias (Lansdale, PA/North Penn) led in assists with 13 and Ryan Shelton (Baldwinsville, NY/Baldwinsville) chipped in 12.
The Eagles came out firing the first set as they raced out to a 7-0 lead. The set was never in doubt as JC went ahead by as much as 24-6 before taking it 25-8.
The second game was close early on but the Eagles built leads of seven and eight points. Juniata collectively hit .312 as it took the second game 25-13.
The third set saw the Eagles go up 10-5 but Hilbert narrowed the gap to 10-7. Kills from Matt Vasinko (Loyalhanna, PA/Derry Area) and Matthew Kinnebrew (Lansdowne, VA/Stonebridge) increased the Eagle advantage to 13-7. The Hawks kept pace with the Eagles and got to within 21-17. Juniata proved to be too much as it outscored Hilbert 4-1 to take the game and match.
The second match saw Juniata go up against #10 Elmira. The Soaring Eagles kept it close in each set but Juniata was too much as it won 3-0 (25-21, 25-21, 25-20).
Albert had a team-high 10 kills and .833 hitting percentage. He also collected five assisted blocks. Kuhn picked up nine kills. Bortak added seven kills and four assisted blocks. Elias totaled 28 assists.
Defensively, Waldorf led in digs with eight. Elias and Feller both added six digs.
The Eagles led 8-4 early in the first set but Elmira got to within one point, 9-8. Juniata put some distance between themselves and their opponent with a 9-4 run to go up 18-12. The Soaring Eagles had some fight in them as they racked up four straight points to go ahead 21-20.
Juniata got a point on a bad set from EC's Matthew Buffum to knot the set at 21-21. A kill from Felix Garcia Ramos restored the Elmira lead to one point, 22-21. The Eagles rallied with three straight points, ending on a Feller kill to take the first game.
The second set saw both teams trade points early on. Neither team could establish a long run as it was neck and neck throughout the game. Juniata led 23-21 and got a service error from EC's Mike Ellison and a kill from Bortak to claim the set.
The Soaring Eagles went ahead 4-3 in the third game but JC rallied to go up 10-7. Elmira again would not let Juniata run away as it kept the score to no more than three points. The cushion proved to be enough for the Eagles as they went on to win 24-21.
Juniata returns to Memorial Gymnasium tomorrow for two matches. The Eagles will play Hunter College at 11 a.m. and wrap up the day with #13 Baruch at 7 p.m.