Eastern Mennonite outscored Juniata for the match, but it wasn't enough as the Eagles came from behind to steal a five-setter and claim the CVC Championship Saturday night in Arlington, Va.
The Royals had a 2-1 lead in sets before JC earned the fifth, where Eastern Mennonite led 14-11 and had six chances at match point before the Eagles flipped in front in a 22-20 final. The men end the year with a record of 22-11, tying the program high for wins in a season.
Juniata claims their third CVC Championship in the league's six years of existence, also punching their ticket to the 12-team NCAA National Tournament.
EMU, which one day earlier used a stifling defense to upset top-seeded Marymount in five sets, showed off their net skills once again, most notably in the second and third sets. The Royals gave up a late run in the first to drop the opener, 25-22, before scoring the first six points in the second set. Juniata got within three points at 12-9, but never fully recovered as EMU won 25-17.
The third was almost a repeat of the second. The Royals scored the first seven points, but this time never let JC back in and rolled to a surprisingly easy 25-15 win.
The Eagles regrouped in the fourth. Using an early 7-2 run, Juniata got a small lead at 7-4. Neither team could manage a string of more than two points as the second-seeded Eagles won 25-19 to force the fifth.
The final set was ripe with gritty plays and missed opportunities.
JC grabbed an early 4-2 lead before the Royals rattled off four straight to go ahead 6-4. The Eagles hurt themselves by committing eight service errors in the set and Eastern Mennonite eventually worked to a 14-11 lead.
Juniata fended off three match points with two kills and block, earning a 14-14 tie. The Royals stayed in front and set up a match point three more times before JC got back-to-back points get the upper hand, 18-17.
The men took their turn fighting back, earning ties at 18-18, 19-19 and 20-20. Serving with a 21-20 lead, Juniata finally scored the final point on a scrambled defensive effort by the Royals, as they unceremoniously failed to get the ball over on three hits.
Boosted by their big wins in the second and third, Eastern Mennonite actually outscored Juniata 111-104. A day after dropping 20 blocks against Marymount, the Royals had 15 stuffs and held the Eagles to a .106 hitting percentage, the lowest mark for JC during their current eight-match winning streak.
Dan Lutz (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) racked up 10 kills with nine blocks. Josh Elmore (Chester, Va./Matoaca) led the balanced offensive attack with 12 kills along with four blocks. William Ragland (North Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale) had 11 kills and a team high 13 digs. Tim Callahan (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) added 10 kills and 11 digs.
R.J. Ocampo (Virginia Beach, Va./First Colonial) had four blocks, including three big solo stuffs.
Setter Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) put up 45 assists and added 10 digs and two service aces. Travis Abele (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee-Davis) and Micah Buller (Richmond, Va./Douglas Freeman) got into the defensive effort with 11 and 10 digs, respectively.
Senior outside hitter Scott Brigham (Montpelier, Va./Patrick Henry) missed the match after injuring his ankle in Friday's win over Marymount.
Juniata All-CVC middle, Kyle Seeley, led them with 18 kills and seven blocks, earning CVC Tournament MVP honors. Matt Vasinko added 12 kills.
Dan Lutz and Christian Taylor were named to the CVC All-Tournament Team following play. Lutz had a dominating performance out of the middle, racking up 19 blocks in the two matches. He also had 21 kills. Taylor dished out 45 assists in each of EMU's tourney matches, distributing to their balanced attack. His 10 digs against Juniata were a career high.
Coach Ross Madden said he couldn't have asked for anything more out of his men: