Volleyball outlasts Montana State in season opener, 3-2
Senior Ashley August was one of two players to tally 19 digs in the Dolphins' 3-2 win against Montana State.
Senior Ashley August was one of two players to tally 19 digs in the Dolphins' 3-2 win against Montana State.
The JU volleyball team avoided a scare in the season opener, earning 3-2 win (25-14, 25-16, 18-25, 20-25, 15-7) against Montana State in the first match of the Spring Hill Suites Invitational on Friday morning.

Sophomore Taylor Nyquist posted 16 kills and 11 digs to lead the Dolphins (1-0) to their first win in a season-opening match since the 2006 season. Sophomore Kylie Jacob added 10 kills for JU while senior Kendall Courtney and Ashley August each finished with 19 digs.

“It’s nice to get the win in the opener,” JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg said. “I liked how jumped out early to a 2-0 lead, but we didn’t do a good job of putting them away. We need to find a way to finish matches to help us out for the rest of the weekend.”

After falling behind 2-0, the Bobcats (0-1) forced a fifth set after hitting better than .260 to take the third and fourth frames. Sarah Horton posted 10 kills to lead the squad, while Jennifer Lundquist finished with 34 assists and six kills.

In the first set, the Bobcats cut an early deficit to two points, 6-4, on a kill by Taylar Barney. The Dolphins put some cushion between them by rattling a 9-3 run, capped on a kill by Nyquist, to take a 15-7 lead. Nyquist gave JU its largest advantage at 22-10 on an attack error and ace in consecutive serves. Freshman Cari Whitmire had a kill and picked up a point off on Barney’s attack error to secure a 1-0 lead for the Dolphins.

In the second set, the Dolphins took a 10-3 lead on a kill by Nyquist. A kill by Alex Penewell and a JU attack error on the following serve would close an 8-0 run for Montana State, cutting the deficit to 14-11. The Dolphins found its momentum again by rattling over the next six points for a 20-11 advantage. The Bobcats had two late points, but gave the Dolphins the set on an attack error by Lundquist.

In set three, the Bobcats got off to a good start by taking a 7-3 lead on kill by Lundquist. Following a timeout, a kill by junior Alison Loeppky helped closed the JU gap to 8-6. But Montana State stayed ahead and slowly built up a 17-10 advantage from a kill by Sarah Horton. The Bobcats took their largest lead of the set, 21-12, from Rachelle Allen’s kill. Horton added another kill to help the Bobcats officially take the set.

In the fourth set, the teams would trade points before the Bobcats took a 12-8 lead on a kill by Barney. The Dolphins closed the gap to one, 15-14, on a kill by August, but the Bobcats took a 22-18 advantage on a kill from Chelsea Omecke. A kill by Penewell helped closed the set for the Bobcats and evened the match at 2-2.

In the deciding set, the Dolphins benefited from seven attack errors by the Bobcats to build an 11-2 advantage. Sophomore Niatha Cullen added a kill and Whitmire ended the set with a service ace to secure the match for JU.

The Dolphins round out the day against Stephen F. Austin at 5 p.m. Fans can follow the action though the links at

-Brian DeLettre