GREENVILLE, Pa. -- Third-ranked Juniata defeated Dominican (Ill.) 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-16, 25-20) in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Carthage College 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-18) in the semifinals Saturday afternoon to advance to the Continental Volleyball Conference (CVC) championship match for the second consecutive year.
The reigning CVC champions will face No. 13 Stevenson in the championship on Sunday at Thiel. Juniata (26-4) fell 3-1 to the Mustangs when the teams met in Huntingdon just more than a week ago. Stevenson (21-7) handed the Eagles only their fourth loss of the season, ending an eight-match win streak.
Juniata was led by junior Paul Kuhn and senior Alex McColgin in Day 1 of the CVC tournament. Both averaged more than three kills per set on the day. Kuhn finished with a team-high 26 kills hitting .417, while McColgin collected 22 kills of his own, respectively.
Junior Joe Bortak was the other big man at the net. He earned a team-high 10 blocks and hit a team-best .520 committing just two errors on 25 swings. Sophomore Matt Elias ran the offense for the Eagles and picked up a match-high 51 assists against Dominican and a match-high 35 in the win against Carthage. This marked only the second time this season he has earned more than 50 assists in a single match, and the second time in his career it happened during a four-set decision.
Quarterfinals vs. Dominican (Ill.) (No. 3 West Seed)
The Eagles survived 11 tied scores and five lead changes to take set one, but Dominican (13-14) came back in set two on fire. Hitting .542 as a team, they won the race to 25 after tying the set up at 20-all, to even the match at 1-1. The Stars scored the first point in set three, but after Juniata tied it up and took the lead, it never looked back, cruising to a 25-16 win. Set four was an even more commanding win. The Eagles scored first and led by as many as six points before earning the win and advancing to the semifinals.
Kuhn and McColgin tied with a team-high 13 kills and Kuhn earned a match-high three service aces. Sophomore Brendan Smith picked up a team-high 10 digs.
Semifinals vs. No. 4 Carthage (No. 1 East Seed)
The last time Juniata faced Carthage, the match went five sets before the Eagles earned the win. This time, the energy in Beeghley Gymnasium was high and competition tough. Each set was a battle, but set two was the key momentum shifter.
Carthage (22-7) took the 23-22 lead off an Eagle attack error. Juniata then responded with a kill from senior Ross Madden and a kill from Kuhn to sit on set point 24-23. A bad set by the Redmen ended the set and gave Juniata the 2-0 lead in the match. The Eagles continued to push in set three and went up by five before Carthage pulled back within three (20-17). But Juniata scored five of the next six points earn the win and a chance to defend its title.
The Eagles outhit Carthage with a .342 team average for the match. Kuhn had the match-highs of 13 kills and two service aces and Madden picked up a match-high eight digs.