PITTSBURGH, Pa.-The Juniata women's volleyball team fell in the NCAA Volleyball Championship Final Four, 3-0 (21-25, 21-25, 26-28), to Emory Friday evening at the Palumbo Center on the campus of Duquesne University, putting an end to their amazing season.
Set one was a tight early before Emory struck for six straight to go up 6-12. An ace from Marie Gonsar (New Castle, Pa. / Shenango H.S.) a kill from Victoria Taylor (Middletown, Del. / Delaware Military Academy) and a bad set by Emory pulled Juniata back within two 10-12. Emory took the next two points but kills from Marybeth Weihbrecht (Mechanicsburg, Pa. / Cumberland Valley) and Taylor along with two blocks by Dejia Danhi (Ashburn, Va. / Stone Bridge) and Moira Folan (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Oakland Catholic HS) gave Juniata their first lead back at 16-15. The teams traded points as both look to take the first set. With the score at 19-20, two straight kills from Weihbrecht made it 21-20 Juniata and forced an Emory timeout. They gathered themselves as they rattled off five straight points to take set one, 21-25.
Set two saw Juniata fall in a 2-7 hole and call timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Alyssa Tavera (Whittier, Calif. / La Salle H.S.) found Weihbrecht for a kill as Juniata tried to quell the run, but Emory kept coming as the deficit ballooned to nine at 7-16. With the score at 11-19, a bad set and an error along with two aces by Sophia Gingrich (Minneapolis, Minn. / Minneapolis Southwest H.S.) made it 15-19. The teams went back and forth before a Taylor kill followed by an Emory attack error and a block via Taylor and Danhi made it 19-22. Juniata couldn't get any closer as Emory eventually took set two by the same score as the first set, 21-25.
Emory took the first two points of set three before the script changed as Taylor unleased three straight kills, a block by Danhi and Folan and an Emory attack error put Juniata up 5-2. Two more Emory errors and a block by Danhi and Morgan Edwards (Lancaster, Pa. / Penn Manor) made it 8-4. Juniata continued to look strong early as an ace from Makenna Hallager (Glenolden, Pa. / Merion Mercy Academy) and an Edwards kill made it 11-5. Emory clawed their way back into the match, as a 6-1 surge brought them within one at 12-11 before they tied things up at 14-14. Kills from Weihbrecht and Gonsar helped Juniata hold their narrow lead and two errors from Emory made it 18-15. A bit later with the score at 18-17, a kill from Taylor followed by two big swings from Edwards had Juniata ahead 21-17 as they looked to force set four. Emory took the next four points before Juniata countered with a dump by Tavera and a kill by Weihbrecht made it 23-21. Emory tied things up at 23-23 and 24-24. Edwards smashed another kill, but again Emory had a response and they added a second kill to put Juniata on the brink with match point. Gonsar kept the season alive with a kill off the block, but that was the last point Juniata would score as Emory took the final two points to take set three 28-26.
Katie Byrne (Annapolis, Md. / Broadneck) added 15 digs and two assists. Taylor had a match-high 11 kills along with three digs while Edwards had eight kills, three digs and three block assists. Danhi had seven block assists, two kills and two digs.
Juniata finishes the year at 28-4.