JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville University volleyball team will travel to Florida Atlantic this Friday to start its season in a three-game tournament in Boca Raton. The Dolphins are set to play Bethune-Cookman at 10 a.m. and FAU at 7 p.m. on Friday, and will finish the tourney on Saturday against Southeastern Louisiana at 1 p.m. A year after its first Atlantic Sun Tournament bid since 2009, the Dolphins are looking to keep up the momentum that propelled them to success late in the 2012 season. Live stats will be available for all matches in the tournament via FAU’s Tournament Central page, and Jacksonville’s match against FAU can be viewed online with a subscription to Conference USA All-Access.
Key returners to JU’s lineup in 2013 include outside hitters Sammie Strausbaugh and Gabriela Roman. Strausbaugh and Roman were both named to the A-Sun All-Freshman team and will undoubtedly be key factors at the net this season. While Roman only played in 89 of 127 sets last season, she ranked second on the team in kills and fourth in aces. Strausbaugh – the 2012 A-Sun Freshman of the Year – led the Dolphins in kills (3.01 per set) and service aces. Her 37 aces ranked third in the conference and her six aces in a match against USC Upstate tied for the season high within the Atlantic Sun.
The undisputed floor leader for the Dolphins is senior setter Kendall Courtney. A three-year starter, Courtney enters the season needing fewer than 500 assists to set the all-time program record. She has easily surpassed 1,000 assists in each of her first three years in a JU uniform. She is also one of the top returners on defense, as her 355 digs led the Dolphins on the season. Up front, Kylie Jacob and her 117 blocks from last season will have opponents wary when they’re on the attack.
The tournament sets up nicely for JU to get off to a successful start in 2013. The first opponent on the docket for JU is Bethune-Cookman, which went 5-28 last season and has eight underclassmen among the 10 players on the roster. FAU is in a similar boat, as 12 new players join the program after a 7-19 season in 2012. The Lions of Southeastern Louisiana are coming off an 11-19 campaign last season and will be in its first weekend of action under new head coach Jim Smoot.
The Dolphins return home next weekend to host the JU Tournament Presented by Hilton Garden Inn – Homewood Suites. FAU and Jacksonville will have a rematch next Saturday in Swisher Gymnasium, with Charleston Southern and Mississippi Valley State rounding out the field.
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