Eagles Soar Past Gators Into Second Round of the NCAA Tournament

Marybeth Weihbrecht hit an efficient .625 with 11 kills to go with her two solo blocks and four block assists.
Marybeth Weihbrecht hit an efficient .625 with 11 kills to go with her two solo blocks and four block assists.

HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata women's volleyball team advances to day two of the NCAA tournament after their 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-15) victory over Colonial States Athletic Conference Champion Notre Dame (Md.) Friday evening in Memorial Gymnasium. 

With the Gators leading 1-2 early, kills from Victoria Taylor (Middletown, Del. / Delaware Military Academy), Dejia Danhi (Ashburn, Va. / Stone Bridge) and an ace from Makenna Hallager (Glenolden, Pa. / Merion Mercy Academy) gave JC the lead back. The Gators tallied a kill before Danhi and Marie Gonsar (New Castle, Pa. / Shenango H.S.) put down a kill each. A ballhandling error and a kill from Marybeth Weihbrecht (Mechanicsburg, Pa. / Cumberland Valley) made it 8-3. Following the Gator timeout, Danhi served up an ace, and Weihbrecht mashed another kill. Notre Dame (Md.) whittled the Eagle lead down to three, 12-9. Weihbrecht struck again and Taylor added a kill of her own to get to 15-9. Juniata cruised the rest of the way, with a Gator eventually ending set one, 25-16.

In set two Notre Dame built up a 5-8 lead early on before Weihbrecht sandwiched two kills around a Gator attack error to tie things at 8-8. Notre Dame took the next point before Taylor and Gonsar smashed back to back points for JC to give them the lead back. The Gators tied the score again at 10-10 before Juniata began to create some separation. Moira Folan (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Oakland Catholic HS) notched a kill, Danhi and Taylor combined for a block before an Alyssa Tavera (Whittier, Calif. / La Salle H.S.) ace forced the Gators to call timeout. Morgan Edwards (Lancaster, Pa. / Penn Manor) pushed the Eagle lead to 14-10 with a kill of her own. Later with the score at 15-12, JC ratcheted up the pressure. JC scored six straight points to make it 21-13 before the Gators got one back but to no avail as the Eagles took the final four points. Weihbrecht added to her collection of kills, Sophia Gingrich (Minneapolis, Minn. / Minneapolis Southwest H.S.) notched her second ace and Folan joined with Weihbrecht for a block to reach set point. Another ace from Gingrich ended set two, 25-13. 

Juniata tallied 13 kills in set three while hitting .258 to win, 25-15. 

The Eagles will face Mary Washington in the NCAA Championship Regional Semifinal, tomorrow at 5:00 in Memorial Gymnasium.