HUNTINGDON, Pa. – Juniata College women's volleyball took a little longer than usual on its way to a 31st consecutive conference championship, but eventually disposed of Susquehanna University, 3-1, in Saturday night's Landmark Conference Women's Volleyball Tournament championship match at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center.
Set scores for Juniata (25-7) were 20-25, 25-18, 25-11, and 25-9.
The win sends Juniata into the NCAAs for the 31st straight year. The Eagles' path to a third Division III national championship will be unveiled on Monday, Nov. 7, at 11:00 a.m., when the full field of 64 teams will be announced via webcast on NCAA.com. The eight Regional sites will also be announced at that time.
Susquehanna (19-19) demonstrated some pluck early in the match, taking the first set on the strength of a .379 hitting percentage. The Crusaders buried 13 kills on 29 swings against only two errors, to take an early 1-0 lead on the Eagles.
The set one loss was the first by Juniata in a conference tournament match since the 2001 Commonweath Conference Tournament championship match, when the Eagles knocked off Moravian by a 3-1 count.
Juniata rallied to even the match with a set two victory, taking a 4-0 lead right out of the gate on a pair of Susquehanna attack errors, a double block by Amelia Kepler (Kane, Pa./Kane Area) and Christine Sumner (Dublin, Ohio/Bishop Watterson), and a Kepler kill.
Susquehanna rattled off seven straight points later in the set to pull to within two, 18-16, but a Rachelle Wiegand (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) kill and back-to-back terminations by Amanda Schmidt (Boswell, Pa./North Star) vaulted the Eagles back into a 21-16 lead. A Kelsey Fuller (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion) kill brought the Eagles to set point, and a double-block by Sumner and Courtney Greenberg (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers) closed out the set.
The Eagles vaulted out to another quick lead, 10-2, in set three, with a pair of Kepler kills fueling the run. At 18-9, Juniata notched six straight points of Greenberg's serve, including two points on aces at 21-9 and 22-9, to grab a 23-9 lead. Three side out points later, at 24-11, Sumner notched a kill following Kate Reese's service for the Crusaders, giving Juniata the set.
Set four was a repeat, with Juniata taking a 5-1 lead and cruising to the win from there. After the Eagles' opening run was halted with a side out by the Crusaders, Juniata got its offense going again off Libby Morrison's (Portland, Ore./Oregon Episcopal School) serve with a nine-point run. Wiegand put away a pair of kills on Susquehanna during the run, with Schmidt recording one kill and Morrison taking care of the scoring herself with a pair of aces.
The Eagles eventually closed out the match and the championship on a Sumner-Kepler block, giving Sumner her fifth block assist of the match while Kepler logged her third.
Wiegand finished with 13 kills to go with seven digs, while Schmidt tallied 12 on 26 swings with a .385 hitting percentage and a pair of blocks. Fuller also finished with a double-digit kill total with 10. Morrison sprawled for 21 digs and served up four aces.
Greenberg had 42 assists while guiding the Eagles to a .278 hitting percentage, and also logged three aces.
In the afternoon's semifinal match, Juniata coolly dispatched Moravian College, 3-0, in a match lasting barely an hour. Set scores for the Eagles were 25-13, 25-6, and 25-16.
Schmidt paced the Eagles offensive with 14 kills on an error-free 23 swings, for a spectacular .609 hitting percentage. Fuller added another seven kills to the Juniata tally, while Lydick had four. Schmidt also had a hand on a pair of blocks, and finished with a match-high 15.0 points.
Morrison sprawled for 18 digs in the match, while Wiegand turned up 11.
Juniata hit .245 as a squad against Moravian (22-12), with Greenberg logging 30 assists at the setter position.
Moravian (22-12) pin hitters Samantha Savite and Taylor Jennings each finished with five kills to lead the Greyhounds, with Savite and Katie Moquete each recording three total blocks. Libero Jesse Krasley dug up 17 balls during the match, while setter Kelly Brown tallied 10 digs to go with her 12 assists.
The Greyhounds were held to -.049 hitting for the match, with Savite and Jennings the only two players to hit for positive numbers in the match.
Story provided by Juniata Sports Information