Volleyball adds three during early signing period
The JU volleyball team is already adding to a youthful roster by announcing the signing of middle hitter Chunia Graves (Indianapolis, Ind.), outside hitter Elly Raush (Lancaster, Pa.) and outside hitter Cari Whitmire (Jacksonville, Fla.).

The trio will join a Dolphin squad which featured a program-record seven true freshman on the roster in 2011.

“All three of these women are great athletes that will represent Jacksonville well,” said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. We are looking forward to the continued increase in competition on the practice court when they arrive next fall.”

Chunia, a 6-foot-1 senior from Lawrence North High School, tallied 93 kills and 27 blocks as a senior before suffering an ankle injury prior to the postseason. In club play, she was a member of the Indiana Volleyball Academy from 2008-10 and the Indy Juniors – Phusion in 2010-11.

“Chunia is an explosive player - both in her play and in her personality,” Kupferberg said. “She will add a quick twitch element to our offense and allow us to present a different look to our opponents.”

Raush, a 6-foot senior from Penn Manor High School, was named Lancaster Newspaper “Player of the Year”, all-state, league MVP, first team all-conference and first team all-district after hitting .420 with 379 kills, 193 digs and 45 aces. As a junior, she was named first team all-conference and third team all-district by registering a .385 hitting percentage, 273 kills, 200 digs and 28 aces. In club play, she has been a member of Revolution Volleyball Club for the past two years.

“Elly is the complete package of what we look for in an outside hitter,” said Kupferberg. “She is consistent in the offensive phase of the game where we will be able to count on her to score some points. Defensively, she is getting better and we look for her to be a six rotation outside for us soon.”

Whitmire, a 5-foot-8 senior from Bishop Kenny High School, led the Crusaders to three state final four appearances. She earned first team all-city and team MVP honors after tallying 196 kills, 215 digs, 29 aces and 17 blocks despite missing the end of her senior season with a dislocated elbow. As a junior, she registered 290 kills, 91 aces and 353 digs en route to first team all-city and all-state honorable mention accolades. As a sophomore, she tallied 187 kills, 330 digs and 48 aces to earn all-city honorable mention accolades. As a freshman, she contributed to the squad with 198 digs and 27 aces as a defensive specialist.

“Cari is going to help out our back row defense immediately,” Kupferberg said. “She is a great athlete that has been successful in everything she has put her heart into. Her speed and aggressiveness will suite her well for the college game.”

The Dolphins, who are currently practicing since returning to campus from winter break, will prepare for their first contest of the spring schedule at UCF on March 26.