March 21, 2003
Harrisonburg, Va. – Two top-ten teams in Division III volleyball squared off in the University Commons at Eastern Mennonite University tonight. The tenth ranked Royals of EMU hosted Juniata in a non-conference contest much anticipated by both teams.
The Royals, ranked tenth in the nation, hosted the number one ranked team in Division III Volleyball
The youthful Royals (12-7, 9-1 NECVA) who have seven freshmen on the team and only two seniors squared off with the more experienced Eagle’s of Juniata (11-6, 5-6 EIVA) with five seniors on the roster. In the first game of the evening the Royals jumped out to an early lead behind the solid play of freshman Nick Bernardo (Lansdale, Pa./Christopher Dock) and senior Matt Musselman (Souderton, Pa./Christopher Dock) who finished the first game with three kills each. Senior Derek King (Bird-In-Hand, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) finished with three kills and two blocks in the Royals 33-31 win in the first game of the night. An unsung hero of the first game was junior Geoffrey Sakuda (Ngong Hills, Kenya) who was in the right place at the right time several times in the first game scooping the ball out of the net twice to end crucial volleys with points for the Royals.
In the second game neither team seemed able to serve the ball over the net with the first points of the game coming on serving errors. The Royals and Eagles played close through the second game until Juniata opened up a 21-16 lead late. The Royals cut Juniata’s lead to 26-24 but fell by two points 30-28. Bernardo led the Royals in the second game with five kills and four digs in the game.
The Royals led for a good stretch of the third game of the match leading the Eagles 15-13 midway through the game. But the Eagles responded with a strong run to take a 25-22 lead late prompting an EMU time-out The Royals got within two points of the Eagles but came up short losing by a score of 30-25.
In the final game of the evening Juniata jumped out to a quick 7-1 lead an never looked back while putting on a blocking clinic to win their third game of the match by a final score of 30-14.
Bernardo led the Royals with 18 kills on the night followed by King with 12 kills. Freshman Bryce Bergey (Sellersville, Pa./Christopher Dock) recorded 33 assists in the game for the Royals. With the loss the Royals record stands at 12-8 on the season and they remain 9-1 in the NECVA-West. Juniata advances to 11-6 on the year and remain 5-6 in the EIVA.