Wittenberg Claims Regional Title With 3-1 Win Over Juniata

Wittenberg Claims Regional Title With 3-1 Win Over Juniata

HUNTINGDON, PA – The Juniata women's volleyball team found themselves down two sets to Wittenberg University for the second time this season at the NCAA Division III Huntingdon, Pa. Regional Championship Sunday evening. Things seemed to follow a similar pattern to the Sept. 5 meeting between the two powerhouse teams, as Juniata took the third set and made a strong push in the fourth. The Tigers prevailed this time around and took a 3-1 (25-21, 25-14, 14-25, 25-22) victory and were named Regional Champions.

Head coach Heather Pavlik said that much of Wittenberg's success came from their focus towards shutting down their middle hitters. 

"Anyone that scouts us know that our middles are probably our top offensive players," Pavlik said. "Kudos to them (Wittenberg) for how they managed that. I thought we adjusted a little better in the third and fourth games and found ways to score but you can't get yourself into that type of hole in this situation." 

Nakita Gearhart (Waynesboro, PA / Greencastle-Antrim) recorded nine kills and hit .350 in the match. Megan Moroney (Mentor, OH / Mentor) was held to seven kills and a .167 hitting percentage. 

Freshman Glen Brumm (Oro Valley, AZ / Canyon Del Oro) hit .269 on 12 kills in her NCAA Regional Championship debut. Brumm remained positive about the experience and is looking forward to the team's growth.

"I think that next year we'll be just as good, if not better," Brumm said. "I'm excited to see what we take what we learned from this year into next year and the years to come." 

The Eagles will lose seniors Kristin Collins (Freedom, PA / Ambridge) and Bryce Arnold (Shippensburg, PA / Shippensburg Area) as they prepare for the 2016 season.

"Those two did a really great job of teaching the youngsters how to do things right," Pavlik said. "They're players who never complained and did whatever I asked them to do, whether it was be on the bench, be on the floor, play defense, hit or switch positions. They've left a legacy of selflessness that this team is going to need moving forward." 

Collins recorded nine kills against the Tigers and finished with a .261 hitting percentage. Arnold made three service aces and kept many sets alive for the Eagles with 10 digs. 

Mar-Jana Phillips (Carson, CA / Rolling Hills Preparatory) made 11 kills, one solo block and one block assist for the Eagles.

Katie Byrne (Annapolis, MD / Broadneck) finished the match with a team-leading 21 digs. Kelly Reynolds (Upper Saint Clair, PA / Upper Saint Clair) and Brumm each picked up 11. Reynolds also recorded five kills, 38 assists and one block assist. She is now ranked eighth in all-time assists in the Juniata books at 3,380 career assists.

Reynolds and Moroney were named to the Regional's All-Tournament Team. 

The team now looks to recharge and come back even stronger in the 2016 season. They return top hitters Gearhart and Moroney and hope to see the talent and fight of the underclassmen continue to grow.