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JMU, Penn State-B Win EIVA Championships

Posted: 4/3/2013

They didn't win their Division. They didn't make it to the gold bracket at Hoosier-Illini. They didn't even win their pool on Saturday, but, somehow, the James Madison Dukes fought all the way back from the brink of elimination to capture the 2013 EIVA East Coast Championship. In the most unlikely of scenarios, the Dukes, who went just 1-2 in their pool, had to win a one-game playoff with a Buffalo squad that had already beaten them earlier in the day, just to make the quarterfinals as the bottom seed. In the quarterfinal match, the Dukes would square off against none other than West Virginia, the team that won the pool and had also beaten JMU in the process. This time around, however, the Dukes managed to get even, coming from behind to edge the Mountaineers 2-1 (19-25, 25-22, 16-14).

The Comeback Kids didn't stop there. After dropping the first set of their semifinal match to a talented Florida team, JMU responded with yet another remarkable turnaround, beating the Gators 2-1 (21-25, 25-22, 15-13). Hardly any of the players or fans in attendance could believe that James Madison had made it to the championship match, and even fewer would have predicted them to beat two-time reigning EIVA Champion Penn State. But that's exactly what the Dukes did. Led by the explosive arm of Outside Hitter Mitch Dintamin, and a heroic performance by 2013 EIVA Most Valuable Player, Phil Slocum, JMU seized the opportunity. Capitalizing on the momentum of their recent victories and uncharacteristic errors by the Nittany Lions, JMU coasted to a 25-19 set one win. Penn State would respond, however, winning the second set 25-16, thanks to a steady barrage of kills from hitters Andy Buss, Andrew Hinton, and Danny Osterhout. In keeping with recent EIVA tradition, the championship match would be headed to a thrilling final set. The game was a back and forth affair until a Dintamin kill gave JMU some breathing room at 11-8. The Nittany Lions fought back but could not close the gap, and the Dukes were able to hang on for the 15-12 win. Slocum was voted MVP and was joined by Dintamin, Penn State's Buss and Osterhout, Florida's Aaron Klein, Virginia Tech's Dan Nugent, and Rutgers' Kris Pescinski.

The Nittany Lions did return to Happy Valley with something to smile about, however, as the PSU-B team swept its pool, trounced North power SUNY-Fredonia 2- 0 (25-17, 25-11) in their semifinal match, and then topped Virginia Tech-B 2-1 (20-25, 25-20, 15-11) to take home the EIVA’s Division II Championship. Penn State Setter, Jordan Wingenroth, was recognized as the conference’s Most Valuable Player. He was joined by teammate Mike Degrazia, Fredonia's Jerry Olmeda and Andrew Pulloch, James Madison-B's John Schmit, and Virginia Tech-B's Logan Cousins and Bill Tompkins.