Volleyball ready for A-Sun Tournament

Nov. 16, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville volleyball team heads to Music City, USA for the second time this season, but with much more on the line.

The Dolphins (15-14) head north as the No. 4 seed at the 2006 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship - needing three wins in two days to secure the title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Leading the way is senior Stevenique Richardson, who earned second team all-conference honors, and freshman Shelley Walroth, who was named to the all-freshman team.

"We're excited about going to Nashville with a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament," said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. "Stevenique and Shelley are well deserving of their honors and its shows how well respected they are by other coaches in the league."

Walroth has been impressive in her first campaign at JU, setting a school record for digs in a season. She enters this weekend's tournament with 506, besting the previous mark of 465 set by Terri Hallenbeck in 1987.

Richardson has been the anchor along the front line for JU. She leads the team in hitting percentage (.315), is third in kills per game (2.57) and second in blocks (125). She has put up 10 kills or more 13 times this season, including seven straight entering this weekend.

Her defensive presence has been equally dominating, racking up at least five blocks in a match 11 times.

"I'm really proud of how much they have improved over the season," Kupferberg said. "Stevenique's blocking ability has been a tremendous asset to the team and her offensive skills have made her a big weapon in our offense. Shelley's play on the back line got progressively better throughout the year and that showed in our in results."

No road to a title is easy and this one isn't any different for JU. The Dolphins face No. 5 seed Gardner-Webb on Friday at 11 a.m., with the winner advancing to play top-seeded ETSU later that day at 4:30 p.m.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 3 seed Lipscomb faces No. 6 Mercer in the first round with the winner facing the host and No. 2 seed Belmont on Friday night.

"This is always an exciting time of the season and we're starting out just like everyone else," Kupferberg said. "Our goal is to win three matches to secure the conference title and we're going to do our best to give ourselves a chance to win it."