No. 7 Eagles blank No. 19 Christopher Newport in three-set victory
HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata improved to 14-0, defeating No. 19 Christopher Newport (CNU) 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-23) in its opening match of the CNU Invitational. Junior Amelia Kepler paced the Eagles with a match-high 14 kills, and senior Amy Miller recorded 12 kills and 12 digs for her fourth double-double of the year.
"I think we've come a long way," head coach Heather Pavlik said. "Being able to stay in tight sets or come from behind shows a lot of resiliency. That has been coming along with this team for the last year or more now."
The first set began with the two teams trading runs and Juniata found itself down on a number of occasions. The Eagles tied the set at 15-all and then went on a 10-6 run including three service aces to close out the first set victory.
"We were a little sloppy [Friday]," Pavlik said. "We were in the net a few times and had some ball handling calls. We weren't really smooth with our transition and we weren't clean with our passes. Some of that is communication and being comfortable with the person next to you. I'd like to see us be more confident and not hesitate on plays."
Deep into the second set, after a Juniata attack error tied the set at 19 all, Pavlik called a timeout. Four points later, Kepler's fourth service ace of the night put Juniata up 23-22 and forced CNU to call its own timeout. The Captains earned the first point out of the break, but the Eagles won the next two to take a commanding two sets lead. Freshman Kelly Reynolds directed the Juniata team and posted a match-high 36 assists.
"We found a way to win sets," Pavlik said. "We found a way to chip away and come back. The team didn't worry too much about what it said on the scoreboard and that's a learned skill."
At the start of the third set CNU jumped out to a daunting 11-4 lead. The Eagles spent the majority of the set chipping away at the Captains lead until finally tying the game at 18 all. The two teams passed the lead back and forth all the way to 2-23 before the Eagles pounded out the last two points to take the set and the match.