JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Heading into the final regular-season weekend, Jacksonville University volleyball is traveling to USC Upstate on Friday for an ESPN3 match and ETSU on Saturday before the Atlantic Sun Championship begins next week.
The last time the Dolphins competed against the Spartans and the Bucs in late-October, the Fins were riding an eight-match winning streak, which ultimately capped off at 10 ending Oct. 26 at Lipscomb. JU handed the No. 1 Bucs a five-set thriller upset on Oct. 18 to claim the top spot in the conference and finished the weekend sweeping the Spartans 3-0.
In the near month since, second-year Head Coach Michelle Collier and the team have only improved, evident both nationwide and in conference.
As of Nov. 11, Jacksonville University volleyball has the third-best overall record in the country at 25-3, only behind No. 6 Missouri (29-0) of the Southeastern Conference and No. 64 American (27-2) of the Patriot League. The Dolphins are 116th of 332 ranked schools, standing in the top ten in aces per set (1.79) at seventh and win-loss percentage (.893) at eighth.
Jacksonville is also one of 19 teams in the nation that stand undefeated on home court, holding the second-best home record at 13-0, after the Tigers, who boast a 16-0 record in Columbia. Following the Fins are No. 4 Florida and No. 17 Duke (12-0), No. 19 Colorado State (11-0), No. 52 Central Arkansas (10-0), four teams at 9-0, including No. 3 Washington, seven schools at 8-0, counting No. 1 Texas, and two with a 7-0 record.
In the Atlantic Sun, the Fins are first in opponent hitting percentage (.180) and service aces per set (1.79). In the latter category, No. 2 North Florida records a far off 1.34 service aces per set. The Fins are second in hitting percentage (.259), kills per set (13.80) and blocks per set (2.24), third in assists per set (12.79), and 10th in digs per set (12.96).
Sophomore Sammie Strausbaugh, senior Kendall Courtney and redshirt-junior Taylor Nyquist are first, second and third, respectively, in service aces per set in the conference, boasting 0.36, 0.32 and 0.31, respectively. Senior Alyssa Robertson is seventh with 0.29 service aces per set. Courtney is also fifth in assists per set (10.36), while Strausbaugh sits eighth in kills per set (3.31). Senior Kylie Jacob is fourth in both hitting percentage (.342) and blocks per set (1.05), while Robertson is ninth in hitting percentage (.300).
Leading the attack on JU are the seniors. Jacob’s .342 hitting percentage tops, followed by Courtney (.320) and Robertson (.300). Defensively, freshman Rachel Miller leads with 2.91 digs per set, while Jacob’s 1.05 blocks per set and Robertson’s 0.90 are first and second, respectively.
JACKSONVILLE vs. USC UPSTATE (Nov. 15)
USC Upstate (4-22 overall, 3-13 Atlantic Sun) lost its last four matches, all in four sets. Most recently they fell at home to Lipscomb (Nov. 9) and Northern Kentucky (Nov. 8). But, three of their four wins were at home, as they stand 3-7. In conference, the Spartans are first in digs per set, averaging 16.30.
Lexi Gober appears to be the offensive leader for the Spartans, holding a .276 attack percentage, 8.85 assists per set and 0.27 service aces per set. Morgan Page leads with an A-Sun second-best 4.42 digs per set, while Kayla Eversgerd tops USC with an A-Sun fifth-best 3.61 kills per set. Javon Gates holds the upper hand in blocks per set with 0.54, but the team averages 0.96 compared to 2.22 by their opponents.
JACKSONVILLE vs. ETSU (Nov. 16)
No. 1 ETSU Bucs (21-7 overall, 15-1 Atlantic Sun) are running on an eight-match winning streak and stand a perfect 8-0 at home. Of their winning streak, half of their matches ran five sets, including three straight from Nov. 1 to Nov. 8. Their most recent loss -- and their only conference loss – was a five-setter against the Fins on Oct. 18.
The Bucs lead the A-Sun in blocks per set (2.74), are second in opponent hitting percentage (.181) and assists per set (12.79), rank third in hitting percentage (.249), kills per set (13.64) and service aces per set (1.34), and are ninth in digs per set (13.25).
Meredith Hardy leads the Bucs with a conference-best 1.46 blocks per set, followed by Khadijah Wiley’s second-best 1.13. Hardy also holds an A-Sun third-best .348 attack percentage, Megan Devine leads with a conference second-best 4.55 kills per set, and Jamie Rutledge is second-best in the conference in assists per set with 10.90.