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Indians complete season sweep of rival EJ

COCOLAMUS — Errors and heavy firepower carried Juniata over cross county rival East Juniata by the final score of 3-0 in a Tri-Valley League volleyball game on Thursday.

“It’s been a good little winning streak for us too,” Indians coach Susan Paden said. “So it’s been fun.”

Juniata came out the gates firing on all cylinders in the opening set, especially behind the serving of both Savannah Marshall and Mackenzie Bennett who helped lead the Indians on long scoring runs as they quickly pulled ahead of the Tigers.

Both teams put together some long rallies as the Tigers made the Indians work for their points at times, but ultimately too many untimely errors proved to be East Juniata’s downfall.

The first set could have been over quicker, if not for the efforts of Kylie Jewell and Kendahl Stroup who were diving and flying all over the court preventing points from scoring. But ultimately Juniata took the first set by the final of 25-7.

“Our offense was amazing,” Paden said. “Its one of our strengths right now, so yes, it’s a good weapon to have.”

Early on in the second set, the Tigers got off to a quick start and had a couple of highlight plays from Alina Feike who had a block and Marissa Lauver scored a kill.

East Juniata tried to keep the Indians’ offense in check, but as the match went on, the Tigers began to struggle again with errors. Then Juniata got its wind back and started firing shots from everywhere thanks to Alexea Frontz, Bennett and Marshall on the offensive side of the ball while Imarylis Mercado carried the load defensively.

The Indians came out on top again in the second set, 25-15.

“They played super, super hard,” Tigers coach Chloe Rougeau said. “I think it was just that we were letting a couple of the Juniata girls just get on runs with their serves. First, second and third sets we were letting them get on some runs with the serves and we just can not let that happen.”

Things got a little crazy between both teams in the third set of the evening as the Tigers much like in the second set, started off strong behind the serving of Kaylene Mann who helped lead East Juniata to score the first four points of the set including a pair of aces from Mann and a kill by Lauver.

However, much like the previous two sets, the Tigers struggled to maintain that momentum and errors bcame a factor. But this time, Juniata began to commit errors and turnovers and was unable to get into rhythm offensively.

Both teams continued to trade the lead with one another as both sides tried to build some momentum for their respective offenses.

The Tigers held onto a slim 20-18 advantage before the Juniata offense broke loose again behind the serving of Bennett. The Indians scored three straight points to make it 21-20, but a mistake allowed East Juniata to tie the set up at 21.

East Juniata hung tough, but the Indians were able to cash in on a couple of errors by the Tigers to pull out the win in the third set to close out the match, 25-22.

“I mean they wanted it, it’s always an exciting game against Juniata,” Rougeau said. “We always want to play against Juniata, we’re hungry for this game. They played their hearts out tonight in that third set. They played really well in that set.”

Despite the loss, it was still a special night for East Juniata as the Tigers got to celebrate and appreciate the lone senior on the team in Jewell.

“Both our coaches creid today, I mean you can tell right here like she means a lot, she came back this year we didn’t have her at all last year,” Rougeau said. “She comes back this year and I was incredibly excited to hear that she was coming back. She is our number one leader on this team.”

“She pulls the girls together at practice when things start to get sloppy, she’s the one that holds them together,” Rougeau continued. “She is going to be a huge loss next year and we’re going to miss her so much.”

Jewell collected three digs for the Tigers. Mann had two digs, three aces and a assist while Leah Davison had four digs and two aces.

As a sign of good sportsmanship, East Juniata also honored the seniors for Juniata in Bennett, Mercado, Josie Abram, Anna Connell and Valorie Fisher.

The Tigers were also defeated in the JV game. After winning the first set, East Juniata dropped the next two to the Indians.

East Juniata falls to (2-18) and travels to face Linden Hall on Monday while Juniata (13-5) awaits its posteason fate. The Indians are currently the No. 8 seed in the District 6 Class 2A power rankings. The top 12 teams will make the District 6 Class 2A tournament.

Juniata 3, East Juniata 0

Scores: 25-7, 25-15, 25-22

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