Purple Raiders Seek History in Second Round Matchup with Juniata (Pa.)

Kristen Gromes and Julie Radigan celebrate Mount Union's first round win over Lebanon Valley (photo by Dave Christenson)
Kristen Gromes and Julie Radigan celebrate Mount Union's first round win over Lebanon Valley (photo by Dave Christenson)


ASTON, Pa.—The Mount Union volleyball team will attempt to advance further than any other team in school history when it faces No. 8 Juniata (Pa.) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on the campus of Neumann University in Aston, Pa. on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The Purple Raiders advanced to the second round after a thrilling five-set win over Lebanon Valley (Pa.) in a first round matchup.

The Purple Raiders (25-7) now own a 2-1 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament with both wins coming over Lebanon Valley. Coincidentally, the only loss came to Juniata in 2009.

Mount Union took a 2-0 lead over Lebanon Valley in the first round on Friday, but the Dutchmen rallied to tie the match at 2-2. The Raiders regrouped to take the final set, 15-13, and advanced to play another day.

Lone senior, setter Julie Radigan (Olmsted Falls/Olmsted Falls), is the only player who played against Juniata two years ago, recording a team-best 26 assists. A three-time all-conference honoree, Radigan ranks second in the OAC in assists (10.13 per set) to go along with a team-best .302 hitting percentage, 1.15 kills per set, and 2.14 digs per set this season. She had 53 assists, 10 digs, six kills, and five blocks against Lebanon Valley.

Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Webb (Geneva/Geneva) and freshman right side hitter Nicole Snyder (Mentor/Lake Catholic) joined Radigan as all-conference selections and lead the Purple Raider attack. Webb led the conference in kills (3.68 per set) and was sixth in hitting percentage (.290) while Snyder is second on the team in kills (2.32 per set) and third in hitting percentage (.235) while also contributing 1.13 digs per set. Against Lebanon Valley, Webb had a game-high 19 kills, including the kill that ended the match in the fifth set. Snyder added 12 kills with four of them coming in the fifth and deciding set.

Other key offensive contributors for the Purple Raiders include freshman outside hitter Melanie Patterson (Mentor/Lake Catholic), freshman middle hitter Maya Brown (Tiffin/Tiffin Columbian), and junior middle hitter Deanna Glass (Medina/Medina). Patterson and Glass both had 10 kills in the first round and Brown added nine kills.

On defense, Mount Union ranks 12th in the nation with 2.31 blocks per set and played terrific at the net against Lebanon Valley. Glass led the conference with 1.15 blocks per set with Brown, Webb, and Snyder all contributing. Junior defensive specialist Kristen Gromes (Navarre/Fairless) leads the Purple Raiders with 4.41 digs per set, followed by freshman libero Lauren Mastroine (Orrville/Orrville) with 3.98 digs per set. Freshman defensive specialist Allison Insana (Cleveland/Villa Angela-Saint Joseph) adds 2.44 digs per set for the Raiders.

Juniata (26-7) makes its 31st consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Eagles have an all-time tournament record of 95-36 and have won a pair of national titles (2004 and 2006). Head coach Heather Pavlik is in her first season as the head coach after being on the Juniata coaching staff as an assistant for the previous 15 seasons.

The Eagles are led on offense by sophomore setter Courtney Greenberg, an AVCA All-Mid-Atlantic First Team selection. Greenberg averages 10.59 assists per set and ranks ninth in the nation. The Eagles have a balanced attack that features seven players who average 2.00-2.50 kills per set. Freshman middle hitter Ashley Schnader, junior opposite Kelsey Fuller, and sophomore outside hitter Amy Miller are among their top hitters.

Senior All-American libero Libby Morrison headlines their defense. Morrison ranks eleventh in the nation with 6.10 digs per set while five other Eagles averages 2.30- 2.75 digs per set.

In the other half of the region, No. 4 Eastern (Pa.) will face Hiram at 6 p.m. The winner will advance to Sunday's match against either Mount Union or Juniata.

NCAA Eastern Regional Tournament Schedule

Friday, Nov. 11
Mount Union 3, Lebanon Valley 2
#8 Juniata 3, Cabrini 0
Hiram 3, Stevenson (Md.) 1
#4 Eastern (Pa.) 3, Penn State-Altoona 0

Saturday, Nov. 12
Mount Union vs. #8 Juniata, 3:30 p.m.
Hiram vs. #4 Eastern, 6 p.m. 

Sunday, Nov. 13
Regional Final, 4 p.m.