D-III: Juniata Wins National Title

Nov. 27, 2004

Mallory Carra

Special to CollegeSports.com


ROCHESTER, Minn. - More than a thousand wins and 28 years later, Juniata College can finally call itself the Division III women's volleyball national champions.


Juniata swept the crown away from Washington University in St. Louis, last year's champion, in a 3-0 (30-27, 30-27, 30-28) victory, while the University of LaVerne took third place over New York University, 3-1 (30-25, 28-30, 30-28, 30-23) in the consolation match at the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minn.


The win capped a historic year for the school, located in Huntingdon, Pa. The title is a first-ever in the history of the Juniata women's volleyball program, which started in 1977. Earlier this year, Juniata head coach Larry Bock, who has been with the team since the beginning, also celebrated his thousandth win, making him the winningest coach in women's volleyball history.


The Eagles dedicated the title to all of those who have been apart of Juniata volleyball, past and present.


"We did it for our teammates who are here and not here," Juniata senior Katie Charles said. "We did it for Larry and we did it for anyone who has ever touched our program. This is not just a win for us. As exciting as it is to win this national championship, we just won this for about a thousand other people."


The sweep came as no surprise to Juniata, a team that swept the 2003 national champion Washington in September earlier this season.


"We knew we were gonna get it done," Juniata sophomore Stephanie Kines said. "There was no doubt in anyone's minds."


In the history of the school, Juniata had made 19 NCAA tournament appearances without producing a title. It was always something that has eluded the decorated Bock, whose many accolades include an induction into the inaugural class of the American Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame last year.


"It's been 28 years and I can't tell you how many press conferences I've been to having left the locker room full of tears," Bock said. "This is much better. I'm honored to be involved with the school and the team that has put up with me as coach."


For Washington head coach Rich Luenemann, there's no hard feelings losing to Bock's No. 1-ranked Juniata.


"The quality of play that we saw tonight at the D-III level was amazing," he said. "There was one team that had more points than the other, but there was no loser tonight. We were in the national championship match and were a hair away from winning it. If there's anyone in America that it was okay to lose to, it was Larry Bock."


Earlier in the evening, LaVerne defeated NYU in four games to claim third place for the second straight year. NYU, last year's runner-up, dropped to fourth place this year.


There was less pressure for both squads, but the Leopards took advantage of NYU's serving and passing problems to come out on top.


"Because it was the last game, we pretty much came out with no regrets and wanted to have a good time," LaVerne senior Sara Lupu said. "We wanted to leave with a good memory of winning and having fun together."


Even though there was no championship at stake, LaVerne was just pleased to end the season with a win.


"As much as we'd love to be No. 1, I don't see anything wrong with being No. 3," LaVerne senior Jennifer Stout said. "I mean it's still top four teams in the nation. That's not bad at all."



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