HUNTINGDON, Pa., April 7, 2007 - Springfield College sophomore middle blocker Andy Sipe (New Oxford, Pa.) led the No. 4 Pride with 15 points on 11 kills (.529 hitting percentage) and a team-best six blocks as SC upset second-ranked Juniata College, 3-0 (30-25, 38-36, 30-25), in the EIVA Division III Championship match this afternoon at Memorial Gymnasium.
The loss was the first for Juniata (13-7) against a Division III opponent since 2004, a stretch of 32 matches. SC (18-8) used a balanced offensive attack that saw four players record eight kills, as the Pride hit .308 as a team.
Head Coach Charlie Sullivan, commenting on his team's championship victory, said, "Our guys played real well today, they were real steady throughout the match. Today's match was great preparation for what we will face next weekend."
Juniata was led by Nate Ocasio who led all players with 17 kills, but the Eagles were unable to find offensive consistency throughout the match.
SC led from the start in game one, with a Dave Smietana (Buffalo, N.Y.) service ace helping the visitors to a 14-9 edge. Juniata got no closer than three points for the rest of the game as a Smietana kill sealed the victory.
Game two was remarkable as both teams had chances to claim the win late in the match. Juniata trailed again early but then recorded four double blocks in seven points to move in front, 22-21. Consecutive kills from Ocasio seemed to put Juniata in control with a 28-25 lead, but the Pride scored six of the next eight points with a kill from Sipe putting the Pride at game point, 31-30. The Eagles answered with a pair of kills from Jeremy Barndt to have its own chance at winning the game, but SC countered with a kill and a double block to again take control. Juniata fought off four game points before a kill from Sipe closed out the game.
The Pride again took control early in game three as a serving run from Eric Shoemaker (Mount Wolf, Pa.) helped the Pride build a 10-6 lead. Three-straight points later in the game extended the lead to six, before a Barndt solo block sparked a run that pulled Juniata within two at 16-14. The Eagles eventually got back within one point at 20-19 on a kill from Dan Powers, but SC came up with the points down the stretch to seal the match with a 30-25 win.
Despite being outblocked 12.5-11.5, the Pride finished with 31 digs to just 17 for Juniata. Ryan Frederickson (Manahawkin, N.J.) led SC with 12 kills, while Sipe added 11 and hit .529. AJ Nally (Rochester, N.Y.) added nine finishes and Smietana chipped in with eight. Shoemaker passed out 45 assists for the visitors while adding seven digs. Nally led the team with eight digs while Sipe paced the squad with six blocks.
Ocasio finished with 17 kills and a .316 hitting percentage. Barndt produced 11 finished and hit .400 for the Blue and Gold while also leading all players with eight blocks. Powers also hit .500 with eight kills. Matt Werle passed out 41 assists on the day and Steve Yeager (Hempfield/East Petersburg) led Juniata with 17 digs.
Juniata and SC will both be in action again next weekend when the Eagles host the 2007 Molten Division III Men's Volleyball National Invitational.