What's Sweeter than 24 Straight Wins? A Trip to the 'Sweet 16'

Victoria Taylor
Victoria Taylor had a match high 12 kills while hitting .409. She added a dig and a solo block.

HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata women's volleyball team advanced to the Sweet 16 after their 3-0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-18) win over Mary Washington Saturday evening in Memorial Gymnasium. The win moves the Eagles on to a matchup with #7 ranked Thomas More tomorrow at 2:00.  

Juniata took the opening three points of the match via a kill from Victoria Taylor (Middletown, Del. / Delaware Military Academy), a block by Marie Gonsar (New Castle, Pa. / Shenango H.S.) and Dejia Danhi (Ashburn, Va. / Stone Bridge) along with a kill a from Danhi. Mary Washington responded, and eventually pushed their lead to four at 10-14, forcing JC to call timeout. Mary Washington added two more kills to go up by six. A service error, a kill from Morgan Edwards (Lancaster, Pa. / Penn Manor) and attack error pulled JC within three. Following a time out by the visitors, Edwards smashed two kills along with one from Gonsar to pull Juniata within one. Mary Washington managed to keep a narrow grip on the lead, with a kill making it 18-20. A Marybeth Weihbrecht (Mechanicsburg, Pa. / Cumberland Valley) kill and a Mary Washington error tied the score and an ace from Gonsar gave Juniata the lead back. The teams traded points to which made it 22-22 before JC closed the set. A service error and kill from Taylor gave Juniata set point. An attack error by Mary Washington gave JC set one, 25-22.  

Again, Juniata opened the set by taking the first three points and eventually went up 5-1, forcing a Mary Washington timeout. Juniata continued to control the set, and a block by Gonsar and Weihbrecht later in the set made it 20-10. Mary Washington took 8 of the next 11 points to get within five, but it wasn't enough as a kill from Taylor and an attack error ended set two in favor of JC, 25-18. Juniata hit .423 in the second set.  

The third set had a similar vibe as Juniata jumped out to a 6-1 lead. Mary Washington didn't go away, as they pulled within one at 12-11. The teams remained neck and neck as two straight UMW points made it 16-16. A kill from Weihbrecht and two errors from Mary Washington made it 19-16 and the visitors called timeout. Three more errors made it 22-16 and again, UMW called timeout. They managed to take two more points, but that was it. A kill from Taylor and an ace from Alyssa Tavera (Middletown, Del. / Delaware Military Academy) gave Juniata match point and a solo block from Taylor sent Juniata into the Regional Final. 

Juniata will take on  #7 Thomas More with a trip to the Elite 8 on the line in a match that will feature a combined 10 all-region players, two regional coaches of the year, 14 all-conference nominees, two conference players of the year, a specialist of the year and a defensive player of the year. It will be the first time these squads have met since 2001. 

Game time is set for 2:00 pm in Memorial Gymnasium.