Eagles’ Season Ends in NCAA Quarterfinals

Mahlon Bender picked up four assisted blocks against Wentworth.
Mahlon Bender picked up four assisted blocks against Wentworth.

HUNTINGDON, Pa.- For the third match in a row, Juniata men's volleyball faced a deficit and needed a comeback to win their match against Wentworth in the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Leopards would not oblige as they defeated JC 3-0 on Friday night at Blake Arean on the campus of Springfield College. The Leopards advance to play SUNY New Paltz in tomorrow's semifinals.


"I'm proud of our guys," said head coach Glenn DeHaven after the match. "All year they worked hard. We had a common goal of getting better and being more consistent. When we got back from spring break, after an immediate speed bump, we really kind of settled in and hit our stride. We had a really good April."


It was a close match early on in the first set. The Leopards got ahead with a run to lead 19-14. JC edged its' way back with a quick three points to trail 19-17 and force a Wentworth timeout. The Leopards would go on to outscore the Eagles 6-3 to take the set 25-20.


Juniata came out firing in the second set at it went ahead 3-0 but Wentworth came right back to lead 6-5. The Leopards were too much for JC as their lead grew to 21-12 in their way to a 25-17 set win.


The Eagles took the early lead, 3-2, in the third frame. The Leopards once again broke away to go ahead 17-12. Juniata still had some fight left in it to get within a point of tying at 19-18. The Eagles trailed 22-20 and looked to hopefully leap ahead and force a forth frame but it was not to be as Wentworth stayed ahead and won the set 25-21 to take the match.


The Eagles hit the ball with a collective .359 hitting percentage on the evening. The Leopards hit .458.


Sean Cavanagh (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) and Quinn Peterson (Las Vegas, Nev./Shadow Ridge) both had seven kills to lead the Eagles. Cavanagh hit a season-best .538. Michael Young (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake Village) paced the offense with 28 assists. Defensively, Mahlon Bender (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) picked up four block assists with Peterson adding three. Matt Vasinko (Loyalhanna, Pa./Derry Area) tallied four digs.


Kyle Seeley reflected afterwards on his senior season and bringing his team back to the NCAA Tournament. "It feels great," he said. "I'm so happy that we are here, that we are back, that Juniata is back on the national stage. "We got young guys like Mike and Sean to keep us there."


DeHaven is very optimistic for what the future holds for his team. "I expect big things and I think they expect big things," he stated. "We had to talk earlier in the year about not walking into a gym and believing you are going to win because of the logo you are wearing. We talked about putting in hard work and I think they really bought into that and it was a change for them. I'm excited in my first four months on the job that I got this far with such a great group. I know Kyle will be missed but I think these guys getting the opportunity to compete with someone like Kyle on a daily basis has been everything in who we have become."


The loss saw the Eagles' season-high nine-match winning streak come to an end. Juniata concludes its season with a final record of 22-11.