HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Fifth-seeeded Carthage (23-7, 10-0 Continental Volleyball Conference West Division) opened play at the NCAA Division III championship on Friday with 3-2 win against Rivier (29-7) in a quarterfinal match at Juniata Kennedy Sports Center. Carthage's winning set scores agianst the fourth-seeded Raiders were 23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-27 and 15-11.
Carthage qualified for the inaugural NCAA Division III championship in 2012 and reached the title match before losing to Springfield in Springfield, Mass. The Red Men did not qualify for last year's championship in Cambridge, Mass.
In Carthage's quarterfinal victory, Rivier broke a 7-7 tie in the first set and never trailed after that. The Raiders opened up a 12-8 lead which went to five points at 19-14. The Red Men pulled to within a point, 24-23, but River's Chris Markuson collected the kill for the final 25-23 decision.
Carthage edged out to a 16-13 lead in the second set. Back-to-back service aces gave the Red Men a four-point lead, 19-15, and Carthage went on to win by that margin, 25-21. After trailing 10-8 in the third set, the Red Men ran off six consecutive points to take a four-point lead, 14-10. The lead went to five, 20-15, and Carthage went on to win by six, 25-19.
Three consecutive kills by Jim Schultz gave the Red Men a 7-3 lead in the fourth set. The lead went to six, 13-7, and to seven at 18-11. The Raiders came up with seven consecutive points to tie the set 18-18. Carthage rebounded with three consecutive points to break the tie and go up by three, 21-18, but the Raiders took five of the next seven points to tie it 23-23. Following ties at 24-24 and 25-25, a service error by Carthage's Jon Storm gave Rivier a 26-25 lead, and a kill by Markuson gave the Raiders the fourth set 27-25.
The Red Men jumped out to a 8-1 lead in the fifth and final set. Rivier pulled to within three points on six occasions, but Jim Schultz collected the final two kills for a 15-11 win.
Jim Schultz had a match-high 24 kills with a .275 attack percentage. Kevin Farrell had 12 kills and hit .478 with 10 digs, and Jon Storm had 12 kills and 11 digs. J.P. Tulaka had five kills, one block solo and six block assists, while setter Connor Wexter averaged 10.60 assists per set with six block assists. Chris Markuson led Rivier with 22 kills, while Aaron Almario had 12 kills and five block assists.