HUNTINGDON, Pa.- For the 11th straight year, the Juniata women's volleyball team celebrated winning the Landmark Conference Championship as they swept Scranton, 3-0, Saturday evening at Memorial Gymnasium.
Tournament MVP Marybeth Weihbrecht (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) tallied 12 kills and a block assist, Victoria Taylor (Middletown, Del./Delaware Military Academy) had 13 kills while Chelsea Scafuro (Geneva, Ohio/Geneva) did a bit of everything with six kills, three assists, three aces, a block assist and 11 digs. Alyssa Tavera (Whittier, Calif./La Salle H.S.) had 27 assists and six digs while Katie Byrne (Annapolis, Md./Broadneck) had 12 digs, four service aces and three assists.
Scranton came out strong early, and facing a 6-10 deficit, Juniata called timeout. Edwards smashed a kill to make it 7-10, but the Eagles couldn't pull closer and after another Juniata error the score was 11-14. That was the final point Scranton would score as Juniata closed the set on a 14-0 run. Four straight errors by Scranton, including a block by Edwards gave Juniata the lead at 15-14. Weihbrecht smashed a misplayed Scranton pass to make it 16-14, and the Royals called timeout but to no avail. Scafuro served up an ace to make it match point before a Royal attack error gave Juniata set one.
The second set was tight early, with the teams tying the score several times. A Royal kill pulled Scranton within one at 11-10, but Juniata took the next four points to take a 15-10 lead, capped by another Edwards block which forced a Scranton timeout. The Royals would not quit, and narrowed the gap to three at 17-14 before they committed two straight attacking errors and called another timeout. The teams traded points to make it 20-15, Scafuro smacked a perfectly place kill from the left side that dropped in the back right side of the Royal defense. Weihbrecht smashed a kill before setting Edwards for a kill of her own. Scranton scored via a service error to make it 23-16 before kills from Scafuro and Edwards gave Juniata set two, 25-16.
The Royals took an early 6-10 lead to open the third set and forced the Eagles to call timeout. The teams traded errors to make it 7-11, and after the Royals committed another error, the crowd started to get into it. Katie Thomas (Batesville, Ind./Batesville) dumped a ball in an opening in the Royal defense in the back right, and Rachel Boe (San Carlos, Calif./Saint Francis) laid down a kill to make it 10-11. The Royals took the next point to make it 12-10 before another Boe kill followed by back to back kills from Edwards made gave Juniata the lead back at 13-12. The Royals tied the score at 13-13 before another Weihbrecht kill made it 14-13, and Scranton called timeout. The Eagles took four of the next five points to open an 18-14 lead and a few points later, a Taylor kill made it 20-16, and the Royals took another timeout. Scranton took the next three points to make it 20-19, and Juniata took a timeout of their own to talk things over. Boe pushed the Eagle lead back to two, but the Royals responded with a kill of their own to make it 21-19. Weihbrecht smashed a kill that narrowly stayed in to make it 22-20, and Scafuro and Edwards followed with kills of their own to give Juniata match point. With crowd going crazy, the Royals managed to stave off elimination with Kirstin Kirwan notching her 11th kill for the Royals. Scafuro smashed a ball that deflected off the Royal blockers for the final point, and the celebration was on.
The win gave the Eagles their 11th conference championship since joining the Landmark and 37th straight overall as a program.
They move to 23-8 and earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.