HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata grinded through its NCAA Division III tournament first-round matchup with Gallaudet and came away with the 3-1 (25-23, 25-19, 19-25, 25-14) win Friday. In the first home NCAA tournament match in the careers of all current Juniata players, the Eagles didn't disappoint the home crowd, advancing to the second round where they will face Stevenson at 6 p.m. ET Saturday. Juniata now leads the all-time series against the Bison 11-1 and is 4-0 against Gallaudet in NCAA tournament play.

The first set started with back-and-forth action until junior Amelia Kepler went on a short run to put the Eagles up by three. Kepler finished the night with a match-high 16 kills from a .359 attack percentage. The Bison quickly came back to tie the set at 10 all and Gallaudet took the lead at 13-12, forcing a Juniata timeout. The young guns of freshmen Kelly Reynolds and Mar-Jana Phillips teamed up to help put the Eagles back on top late in the set at 17-16. Reynolds finished with a match-high 46 assists and Phillips pounded out eight of Juniata's 54 kills.
 
The Bison rebounded for the lead at 18-17 before Juniata went on a run thanks in part to the hard hitting of senior Amy Miller. Miller nailed down 15 terminations from an impressive .520 attack percentage and totaled a team-high 12 digs in the match. A few miscues by Juniata and the set was knotted at 23, but Miller pounded home an ace for set point 25-23.
 

Rotating in the opposite position, Kepler helped drive the Eagles to an 8-6 lead in the second set with her strong serving and a series of terminations. Gallaudet kept the set close, pulling to within one at 11-10 Juniata, but the Eagles maintained their lead through a number of strong defensive plays. Freshman Nakita Gearhart put down a commanding kill to give the Eagles a five-point lead at 21-16 and the front row stayed strong on the block to take the second set 25-19.

The third set opened in similar back-and-forth fashion as the first, with the teams tying at 3, 6 and 7 before Gallaudet took back-to-back points for the 9-7 lead. The match went through another run of ties from 10-10 all the way to 16 all before the Bison pulled away to 21-17, forcing a second Juniata timeout in the set. A final service ace from Gallaudet claimed the third set 25-19.

Sophomore Bryce Arnold started the fourth set with a strong service run to light a fire under the Eagles. Juniata took the early 6-2 lead and at 9-5, senior Rachelle Wiegand started a service run of her own to take a commanding 15-5 lead. After two points in a row by Gallaudet, Phillips slammed a kill to end the thoughts of a Bison upset. Miller and Gearhart at the net overpowered the Bison with quick-set kills and strong swings. Gallaudet fought off three match points before Kepler pounded down the 25th point for the win.