Volleyball starts 2011 season with first fall practices
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The distinct sound on sneakers hitting the court was prevalent throughout Swisher Gymnasium on Tuesday as the JU volleyball team rounded out its first practices for the 2011 season.

The Dolphins, picked sixth in the A-Sun preseason coaches’ poll, return 11 players from the 2010 squad that tallied a 14-16 mark, just missing the conference tournament for the first time since 1999.

“We’re anxious to get on the court,” JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg said. “Our team had a great spring and I think everyone is excited to keep that energy rolling.”

Last season, the Dolphins boasted their highest number of freshman (7) since the 1998 season which will provide better experience as they enter the 2011 season.

Leading the crop of returners is senior outside hitter Kathryn Kane who led the team in attacks (752) and finished second in kills (222) and digs (245) in 2010. Sophomore middle hitter Alyssa Robertson is also back after leading the team in blocks (88) and finishing fourth in kills (173) to earn A-Sun all-freshman honors.

The returning core also includes seniors Alliya Drzewiecki and Ashley August and juniors Alison Loeppky and Nicole Teplitz. Kylie Jacob, Taylor Nyquist, Kendall Courtney, Niatha Cullen, Jenell Larsen and Nadia Booker make up the rest of returners after being the newcomers last season.

The Dolphins added just four freshmen to the mix - Chunia Graves (Indianapolis, Ind.), Cari Whitmire (Jacksonville, Fla.), Elly Raush (Lancaster, Pa.) and Jenna Orner (Carlisle, Pa.).

“The great thing for these freshmen is that we are at a very fluid moment in the evolution of our team and there are opportunities to make a difference from day one,” Kupferberg said. “We have some great talent in the gym and I look forward to see who elevates themselves from the crowd.”

JU will host its annual Alumni match on Aug. 20 to get ready for the season-opener against Montana State and Stephen F. Austin on Aug. 26 at the Georgia Southern Tournament in Statesboro, Ga.