Juniata Wins 2009 Molten DIII Men's Invitational

April 21, 2009, 6:30 p.m. (ET)

Release courtesy of Ramapo College

MAHWAH, N.J. (April 18, 2009) – Top-seeded Juniata swept No. 2 Stevens Institute of Technology to win the 2009 Molten Division III Men’s Invitational Volleyball Championship on Saturday at the Bill Bradley Sports and Recreational Center on the campus of Ramapo College. The Eagles have won a record six Molten Invitational championship titles. The Eagles earned the 3-0 win with game scores of 30-26, 30-25 and 30-19. In the consolation game, No. 3 UC Santa Cruz defeated No. 4 Ramapo, 3-2 (30-27, 27-30, 30-26, 27-30, 15-13).

Molten Championship LogoZach Wanner (Lancaster, Pa.) led the championship game with 15 kills, four aces and five blocks, while hitting 0.429. Evan Halteman (Perkiomenville, Pa.) followed with 14 kills and a 0.684 attack percentage. Matt Werle (Meadville, Pa.) put up 37 assists and four aces on his way to being named the MVP of the invitational. Anthony Damiano (Lititz, Pa.) was the team leader in digs with nine. Both Wanner and Damiano were named to the all-tournament team.

For Stevens, Joe Trinsey (Wilmington, Del.) paced the team with 11 kills and SteFan PremDas (Hollywood, Fla.) posted a team-high seven digs. Andrew Cranford (Bel Air, Md.) hit 0.389 and recorded nine kills, while Tomas Bochicchio (Saint James, N.Y.) also had nine. Cranford and Bochicchio both represented the Ducks on the all-tournament team.

Juniata never trailed in the first set of the championship game to take a 30-26 victory. The Eagles tallied 19 kills and two aces in the opening set and held their biggest lead of five at five different points through out the game. The Eagles pulled ahead 29-24 on a kill from Dan Powers (Lancaster, Pa.), but the Ducks scored twice before Powers sealed the win with his third kill of the set. Wanner paced the Eagles with six kills and a 0.417 hitting percentage.

The Eagles took the second set by a score of 30-25, hitting 0.321 and holding the Ducks to a 0.114 attack percentage. The lead was no greater than one for either team until Juniata collected four points on errors to take a 15-11 advantage. The game continued to stay close for some time but started to pull away when the Eagles earned three-straight points to make it 28-23. The Eagles came out on top with the help of Wanner’s three kills over the last eight points and two back-to-back kills from Werle. Bochicchio kept the Ducks in the game, spreading four kills through out the second half of the set.

Juniata easily sealed up the match with a 30-19 win in the third set to post its second sweep of the invitational. The Eagles used five service aces late in the game to pull away 29-16 and posted 16 kills overall with a 0.481 hitting percentage. Werle reeled off three aces in a row to make it 26-14 and Brian Jaron (Severna Park, Md.) has two consecutive to advance the Eagles 29-16. Wanner posted five kills with no errors in the final set, while Cranford had four.

In UC Santa Cruz’s 3-2 win over Ramapo, the Banana Slugs had three players put up double digit kills, led by Brad Sullivan (Saratoga, Calif.) who recorded 15. Justin Lam (San Francisco, Calif.) and Alex Schwartz (Glencoe, IL) had 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Schwartz hit .476 for the match and assisted on five blocks. Jeff Hogg (Granite Bay, CA) led the Banana Slugs with 19 digs, while Eric Rowell (Los Gatos, Calif.) dished out 60 assists.

For Ramapo,TC Elsasser (Barnegat, N.J.) came up with a match-high 18 kills, while younger brother Jeff Elsasser (Barnegat, N.J.) had 16 kills. Both Elsasser’s recorded three aces a piece. Shane Donohue (Freehold Twp., .j.J) notched a double-double with 14 kills and 14 digs. Tom Kohler (East Brunswick, NJ) posted 15 kills and owned a .429 attack percentage.

UC Santa Cruz started off the match with a 30-27 win over Ramapo in the first set. The Banana Slugs went up 11-6 on eight kills, including four by Lam. The Roadrunners then went on an 8-3 run to bring the set to 15-14 with a duo of kills from Elsasser and Kohler each. UC Santa Cruz started to pull away again over the second half of the set, but Ramapo tied it up at 27 all on an attack error. The Banana Slugs notched three consecutive points to close out the set.

Ramapo hit .594 in the second set to earn a 30-27 win, posting 20 kills to UC Santa Cruz’s 15. After being down as many as seven early in the set, the Roadrunners scored five-straight points to bring it to 16-14. Ramapo stayed within four until they tied it up 24-24 with a kill by Kohler. The Roadrunners gathered four of their last six points on attack errors but the Banana Slugs, but put it away on a kill from TC.

In game three neither team led by more than three points until the decider earned UC Santa Cruz a 30-26 victory. In a set that was tied on 12 occasions, the final time the two teams were even was at the 23-23 mark. The Banana Slugs killed the ball four times over the final seven points, led by a pair of successful attacks from Max McDaniel (Grass Valley, Calif.).

Ramapo pulled out another 30-27 win in set four, notching 16 kills and five service aces. The Roadrunners made their first push towards victory at the 15-15 mark by going on an 8-2 run to go ahead 22-16. Over that span the Roadrunners collected four aces with brothers TC and Jeff each collecting two points. Rowell brought the Banana Slugs to within two towards the end, making the game 29-27 with a kill. The set ended on a UC Santa Cruz serving error.

UC Santa Cruz wrapped up the game with a 15-13 win in the final set. Matt Smiley (Apatos, Calif.), Sullivan and Schwartz combined for nine of the Banana Slug’s 11 kills. UC Santa Cruz hit .526 in the fifth set.

Tournament Most Valuable Player
Matt Werle, Juniata

All-Tournament Team
Zach Wanner, Juniata
Anthony Damiano, Juniata
Andrew Cranford, Stevens Institute
Tomas Bochicchio, Stevens Institute
Eric Rowell, UC Santa Cruz
Tom Kohler, Ramapo