Volleyball's record setting night isn't enough to topple ETSU

Oct. 5, 2006

Box Score

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Despite racking up an Atlantic Sun Conference record 23 blocks, the JU volleyball team was denied a win in its conference opener, falling to East Tennessee on Thursday, 3-2.

Melissa Merchant led the Dolphins with 12 blocks, tying the record for most blocks in a conference match set in 2003. The 23 total blocks by JU shatters the previous school record of 20 set in 1997 against Lamar.

After rallying from an 0-2 deficit to force a deciding fifth game, the Dolphins (8-10, 0-1 A-Sun) scored the first two points of the final game. ETSU rallied to take the lead and JU fought off two match points to tie the game 14.

But the Bucs (15-5, 3-0 A-Sun) battled back to score the last two points and secure the win.

"This was a disappointing result considering how hard we played tonight," said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. "We didn't get off to a good start, but we were able to get going in the third and fourth games. Our blocks were solid, but we can't afford to fall behind early like that and expect to win."

The Dolphins didn't get off to an ideal start, dropping games one and two by identical 30-23 scores. The offense had 24 kills, but the Dolphins defense struggled - giving up 35 kills.

JU fell behind 10-5 in the first game and 10-3 in the second, never really factoring into either game.

But something happened during the intermission, igniting a fire on the JU side.

The Dolphins rolled in game three, turning a 10-9 lead into a 16-9 advantage and never looked back in a 30-24 win. JU's offense had only 10 kills, taking advantage of the opportunities they had, but the blocking was solid as the Dolphins forced 17 errors as the Bucs hit a negative .065 (-.065) in the game.

Game four started as a laugher as ETSU pounded out an early 10-4 lead. The Bucs pushed the lead to nine, 20-11, before the Dolphins kicked it into gear.

JU answered with 14 of the next 19 points to tie the game at 25. With the game tied at 29, JU took its first lead of the game at 30-29 with the serve. The Bucs answered back with two straight to serve for the match at 31-30, but JU rallied with the final three points - capped by a block by Stevenique Richardson and Una Dzalba to force the fifth game.

JU was led by Merchant's 12 blocks (1 solo, 11 assists) along with 18 kills, 13 digs and six blocks from Sara Bendorf. Stevenique Richradson added 11 kills and 10 blocks. Shelley Walroth led the back row with 24 digs with Petya Borisova chipping in with 10.

Four Bucs put up double figures in kills, led by Jennifer Sartor's 19. Kaena Apana racked up a match-high 33 digs while setter Jennifer Emerson dished out 64 assists.

The Dolphins wrap up their conference opening road trip on Saturday against Kennesaw State.