Saturday's much-anticipated rematch of the 2017 CVC Championship did not live up to its billing, as EMU's volleyball men suffered a 3-0 loss at No. 9 Juniata College on Saturday.
The loss left the Royals (5-3) with a 1-1 split to their Continental Volleyball Conference opening weekend after Friday's sweep at Thiel College. Eastern Mennonite hosts their CVC home opener on Wednesday, welcoming in Southern Virginia (4-3/1-1 CVC). This is the Knights' second season as a program and first in the CVC.
The head-to-head with Juniata (6-5/2-0 CVC) held much intrigue, as both teams returned many of their key players from last year, when the Eagles snuck out with a 3-2 win in the conference title match. The first set was as good as expected with nine lead changes. EMU held the biggest lead at 15-12 before Juniata scored three in a row to tie it.
Tim Callahan (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) landed a kill to give Eastern Mennonite a 24-23 lead and the first crack at set point, but the Eagles rattled off three in a row to steal the opener, 26-24.
Juniata opened a 5-2 lead in the second before EMU tied it at 5-5. The home team did not slow down, however, scoring four straight. A huge run blew open a 22-11 cushion for JC, and they finished off a 25-17 score.
The Eagles opened up a 9-4 lead in the third and never led the men closer than three in closing the match, 25-18.
Callahan landed a match best 15 kills, followed by 12 from William Ragland (North Chesterfield, Va./Thomas Dale). However, the rest of EMU's usually balanced attack combined for just eight kills with eight errors on 30 swings. Setter Christian Taylor (Richmond, Va./Deep Run) had 34 assists.
The Royals' aggressive serving yielded only one ace but 11 errors. JC had five aces against three errors.
Quinn Peterson and Matt Vasinko each had ten kills for Juniata. Mahlon Bender made eight blocks.
The two teams meet again in Harrisonburg on Friday, Feb. 16.