Volleyball digs deep in 3-2 win over New Orleans

Sept. 15, 2007

Box Score

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Senior middle blocker Melissa Merchant, junior outside hitter Sara Bendorf and freshman outside hitter Aidan Yeager each finished with double-doubles to lead the JU volleyball team over New Orleans, 3-2 (30-22, 25-30, 30-22, 30-32, 15-12), Saturday evening in a dramatic battle at Swisher Gymnasium.

JU (5-8) tied a program-record with 23 blocks, including a program-record 13 by freshman middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher. The Dolphins set the program record for blocks with 23 at East Tennessee State on Oct. 5, 2006. Gruenbacher broke the 12 block record which was held by Merchant (2006) and Carrie Windell (1997).

New Orleans (6-7) finished with a match-high 76 kills but six ball handling errors, seven receiving errors and 42 attacking errors took its toll on the Privateers' comeback attempt.

"We had another gut check game but we finally came out on top this time," said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. "We came on strong in the beginning, but became inconsistent throughout the match. Fortunately, we got it together and made the points when it mattered most.

"It was a great blocking match for us and our serve/receive was much better tonight."

Yeager finished with a season-high 20 kills and a team-high .459 (20-3-37) hitting percentage to go along with a season-high 11 blocks. Bendorf tallied 18 kills and 11 digs while Merchant recorded 11 kills, 10 blocks and a .455 (11-1-22) hitting percentage.

Freshman setter Hannah Munneke dished out 54 assists to go with nine digs, seven blocks and four service aces. Sophomore libero Michelle Walroth finished with a match-high 30 digs while also racking up six assists.

Lindsey Boler tallied a match-high 23 kills for the Privateers while Lindsey Loyd added 20 kills and 12 digs. Lauren Loeffelholz finished with 16 digs and 10 kills to round out the UNO double-doubles. Jaci Bayley dished out a team-high 32 assists and Nicky Valenti led the defense with 19 digs.

In game one, JU used an early 8-0 run to lead 11-3, which was capped by Bendorf kill. UNO would cut the deficit to 18-12 after a kill by Loeffelholz, but the Dolphins answered with a 6-0 run (all six of which came from Privateer errors) to make it 24-13 contest and seal the game.

In the second frame, JU held an early 8-6 lead but UNO answered with a 4-1 run to take a 10-9 advantage that it would never relinquish. The Privateers held off three attempts by the Dolphins to tie game but used a 6-0 run to make it 23-14 after an attack error by JU. The Dolphins made a late comeback attempt with a 3-0 run to cut the deficit to 28-24, but UNO finished the game with a 2-1 score.

In the third game, the Privateers took an early 9-5 lead after an attack error by the Dolphins but JU answered with a 7-0 run to take a 12-9 lead. The Dolphins increased the margin to 19-11 with a 7-2 run and cruised the rest of the way as JU's lead never dipped below six points for the remainder of the game.

In the fourth game, each team went toe-to-toe through six lead changes and 13 ties as the Privateers forced a fifth and deciding game. UNO took an early 4-1 lead before JU answered with a 6-3 run to take an 8-7 advantage on an attack error by Loyd. Each team went back and forth until UNO opened a 13-10 lead on an attack error by the Dolphins.

The Privateers kept their three-point lead for most of the game until JU used a 3-0 run to tie the game (20-20) on a block by Gruenbacher and junior outside hitter Kesley Clark. Both teams went back and forth again until UNO took a 25-22 advantage with a 3-0 run, which was fueled by consecutive attack errors by the Dolphins. JU responded with a 4-0 run to lead 26-25 after an attack error by Kaley Hubbard before pushing the advantage to 29-27 on an attack error by Boler.

With their backs against the wall, the Privateers answered with a 2-0 run to tie the match, 29-29, but JU got a kill from Bendorf to regain match-point. UNO responded once again, this time with a 3-0 run to take the game 32-30.

In the deciding game, UNO took a 3-1 lead after a kill by Loyd but JU used a 2-0 run to tie things up. The Privateers ran off a 2-0 run of their own to open a 5-3 advantage but JU took control with a 5-0 run, capped by a kill by Yeager, to open an 8-5 lead. JU would lead by as many as four points (10-6) before UNO used a 3-0 run to cut the margin to 10-9 on a block by Emily Kelly and Boler. The Dolphins would not relinquish the lead, however, as JU used a late 3-0 run to open a 14-11 advantage and seal the match.

JU will begin Atlantic Sun Conference play next weekend as the Dolphins travel to East Tennessee State on Friday at 7 p.m.