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The University of Scranton Athletics

Volleyball Battles, but Drops Four Set Decision to Juniata in Landmark Title Match

Photo by: ZJ Morse
Photo by: ZJ Morse

HUNTINGDON, Pa. – The No. 2 seed University of Scranton volleyball team (21-12) fought hard, but ultimately fell short in a 3-1 loss to the top seeded Juniata Eagles (28-1) in the Landmark Championship match on Saturday night at Memorial Gymnasium in Huntingdon.

Juniata will advance to the NCAA Tournament as the Landmark's automatic qualifier, while the Royals will wait to find out if they have earned an at large-bid in the field of 64 when it is announced in a live selection show on on Monday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m.

This marked the fourth all-time matchup in the Landmark Championship between the two teams and the second straight. The Eagles are ranked No. 2 in the latest AVCA Top 25.

Juniata 3, Scranton 1 (9-25, 23-25, 25-21, 21-25)

Juniata raced out to a 10-4 lead in the first set and led 16-9 after a kill by Royals' sophomore Sophia Hadjiyane (Huntington, N.Y./John Glenn), but the Eagles responded by taking the final nine points of the set en route to the 25-9 victory.

The two teams battled back and forth for much of the second set and the Royals led 15-13 after consecutive kills from junior Stephanie Margolies (Westfield, N.J./Westfield) before the Eagles battled back to even things at 18 apiece. In fact, Juniata took six straight points for a 22-18 advantage, but Scranton would not go quietly and cut the lead to one at both 22-21 and 24-23. However, Audrey Muth was able to close things out for the hosts with a kill to seal the 25-23 win.

In the third set, a block assist by sophomore Erin Keaveney (Collegeville, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) and senior Abby Rzucidlo (Garnet Valley, Pa./Ursuline Academy) opened up an 8-3 lead for the Royals. From there, the Eagles took eight of the next 10 points to take an 11-10 lead, but a trio of kills by senior Carah Vitkus (Mahopac, N.Y./Mahopac) and two by Keaveney helped Scranton regain the lead at 16-14, one that they wouldn't relinquish. Juniata did cut the lead to one at 19-18 before a Margolies kill and a pair of block assists by Rzucidlo and senior Caileigh Cox (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) led to a 25-21 victory for the Royals.

Juniata took the first nine points and 12 of the first 13 in the fourth set for an early 12-1 lead. Trailing 16-3 at one point, head coach Jamie Spangler's team put together a valiant comeback and recorded 14 of 19 points capped off by a Hadjiyane service ace that cut the deficit to four at 21-17. Margolies came through with a solo block to keep the Royals alive in the match at 24-21, but the Eagles' Mackenzie Coley delivered a kill to complete the match.

Margolies had 13 kills to pace Scranton, while Hadjiyane added 10 of her own and Vitkus recorded eight.

Cox added 29 assists and 10 digs in the match as freshman Maddie Forry (Reading, Pa./Exeter Township) tallied 20 digs to lead the Royals in that category.

Coley led Juniata with 17 kills and Olivia Foley recorded 51 assists.