Indians get close, slip away late

MIFFLINTOWN — Serving can prove to be the difference in a volleyball match, especially when each game is decided by a few points. While each side struggled to serve consistently, it was Juniata who gave up too many points on unforced errors in its 3-0 nonleague loss to St. Joseph’s Wednesday.

When Juniata was able to set up opportunities, it cashed them in. But, between inconsistent serving, allowing aces and hitting shots going out of bounds, the Indians ended up on the short side of a match that could have gone in their favor.

Despite getting swept in three games, the Indians played competitively throughout the entire match. In the first game, they jumped out to an early lead thanks to the help of senior Hunter Johns. The tallest player on the court made her presence felt at the net, as well as when she was serving, tallying six kills, one block and 17 digs in the match.

A kill and an ace from Johns helped Juniata take an 8-6 lead. Johns set the precedence for her team’s grit, something that Johns know they have plenty of.

“We want to be here. We want to win. We want to get out there and want people to know who we are,” Johns said.

Juniata couldn’t hold that lead as the Wolves came back to take an 11-10 lead, their first of the game. The Indians continued to fight hard and with the help of an ace from Jasmine Hockenberry, they tied the game at 17-17. This charge forced the Wolves to regroup and take a timeout. An ace from Kiersten Willis tied the game at 19 and the Indians took a 20-19 lead, looking to lock down the game. The score went back and forth, but the Wolves were able to recover and win, 25-22.

Much like the first game, the Indians got off to a fast start in game two. They took a 4-0 lead and had all the momentum. It was now the Wolves’ turn to fight back, which they did, and took their first lead of game two at 15-14. With their backs against the wall again, the Indians clawed back into the game and took a 20-19 lead after a St. Joseph’s serve went long. The Wolves went on a solid run, tying the game at 21, and eventually winning, 25-21. This 5-0 run from the Wolves closed out a game that could have easily gone the other way.

In game three, it was the Wolves who got out to the early lead, taking the first three points of the game. Juniata tied the score and with Johns serving, took a 7-3 lead. If this matchup proved anything, it was that these two teams had lots of fight in them and that no lead was safe.

The Wolves’ front line took over game three after being taken advantage of in the previous two games. Their onslaught of kills brought them back into the game and eventually gave them an 18-14 lead. As to be expected, the ending of game three was a battle, as the Indians refused to give up. They brought the score to within a point, but could not overtake their opponent. A Johns serve went long, giving the Wolves the game and the match.

There were some areas of the Indians’ play that they will need to improve upon, but there were plenty of positives that this team can take away from their match.

Losing is never the desired outcome for a team, but the fact that each game could have swung in the Indians’ favor gives Johns a reason to be hopeful for the remainder of the season.

“This type of game is a lot better (for us),” Johns said. “We know that we played very well, and deserved to win, but it just wasn’t there.”

Juniata travels to Upper Dauphin Sept. 12.

St. Joseph’s 3, Juniata 0

Game scores: 25-22, 25-21, 25,20