Volleyball Earns Feat Not Seen Since 1988
(Photo credit: Skip Tapp)
(Photo credit: Skip Tapp)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The No. 2 Jacksonville University volleyball team earned 25 wins for the first time in 25 years and for the first time in JU's Atlantic Sun Conference history since joining in 1998. JU swept No. 6 Kennesaw State, 3-0, [25-18, 25-17 and 25-19] on Saturday at Swisher to earn the feat.

The Dolphins improve to 25-3 overall, 14-2 in the Atlantic Sun and 13-0 at home.

The last team in JU history to reach 25 wins was the 1988 squad that finished 25-19 overall, third in the Sun Belt Conference and fifth in the tournament.

“We knew that this weekend was going to be tough, but it was also our last weekend at home and we are very proud of playing in this place and protecting our house and I think the girls were fired up about that, especially the seniors, to leave their legacy behind,” said Head Coach Michelle Collier.

“I think that we prepared ourselves well, we were able to make our opponents uncomfortable and keep them away from their A-game and I think that helped us come out with a win.”

As a team the Dolphins hit .324 to Kennesaw State’s .107, made 35 kills to 29, six service aces to two, and 20 block assists to 10.

Senior Kylie Jacob and sophomore Gabriela Roman tied for a match-high .500, while Jacob earned a match-high seven block assists, one away from a career-high she earned this past September. Senior Alyssa Robertson added three block assists and one service ace, while senior Taylor Nyquist and junior Mayara Prestes tied for five digs and Nyquist added two block assists and two service aces. Senior Kendall Courtney recorded 30 set assists, two digs and two block assists, while sophomore Sammie Strausbaugh held a match-high 13 kills, followed by Roman’s eight.

Jacksonville led 8-4 in the opening set before KSU scored within one at 10-9 on a Kelly Marcinek kill. JU then scored four straight to lead 14-9, led 24-17 after kills by Jacob and Strausbaugh, and won the first set 25-18 on a service error.

The Fins rolled into the second with a 6-0 lead on three attack errors, two Nyquist service aces and one bad set. The Owls only managed three in a row from 14-9 to 14-11 and were down 23-17 when the Dolphins scored the final two on a service error and a Nyquist kill to win the second game 25-17.

The final set had five ties and two lead changes. KSU led 4-3 and 5-4, but only then as JU controlled the rest to win the match 25-19 on another service error.

Next, the Dolphins hit the road to compete at USC Upstate (Nov. 15) and at East Tennessee State (Nov. 16) to finish the season before the Atlantic Sun Tournament begins Nov. 21.

“We’re expecting a dogfight,” Collier said of next week's matches. “You know Upstate is a really hard place to play [and] they play us really well over there so we know it’s going to be a very tough match. We have a long week of preparation – last week we had a mid-week match so that kind of spread out a little bit. This one is going to get everybody a little anxious about getting to that last weekend. But you know it’s another chance to win in conference and we’re going out there with everything that we have; we know we’re going to play two very good teams.”

Collier mentioned that there has been talk about the A-Suns but the team is taking one match at a time.

“For a long time [the Dolphins] haven’t had the opportunity to be in the tournament so early when we qualified, so that was great for the program…. We were able to focus on one match at a time and take our time preparing for every opponent.

“We’re ready. We’re excited about it. We’re going to try to seize the opportunity and continue the great season that we’re having. It’s been pretty surreal, it’s been fun and we’re not ready to be over.”