JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Staying ahead of Hurricane Matthew, Jacksonville University's volleyball team jumped on a plane to Newark, N.J., Thursday morning to kick off its six-game road trip. The Dolphins will play the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Friday and then head south to USC Upstate on Sunday, pending Matthew-related closures at Upstate.
"This is a pivotal weekend for us and I think the girls are ready to hit the road and compete," said Head Coach Julie Darty. "We have had a couple days of solid practice to prepare for these two tough opponents and hope that all goes well with our travel so we can get to Newark. I really think that the buy in is there and they are finally realizing that with every single match we are getting better and this is a process for all of us, together."
- Darty is 2-0 against NJIT during her three-year tenure as head coach at JU. This is just the third meeting between the two teams all-time.
- The Dolphins hope to earn their first ASUN Conference win of the 2016 season.
- JU is third in the league with 15.83 digs per set.
- Freshman Mallory Mattingly and junior Jessica Armstrong are tied for the team lead in kills with 144 apiece, ninth in the ASUN.
- Armstrong is fifth in the league in hitting percentage with .288
- Jizzyan Gesualdo is second in the ASUN in career assists among active players with 2,888. The fifth-year senior from Ponce, Puerto Rico, is 28 assists behind Kayla Ostrom, who has 2,916 in her time with Lipscomb.
- Junior Mackenzie Swan is second in the league with 4.87 digs per set.
Scouting the Highlanders
NJIT, 8-11 overall and 0-3 in ASUN play, is winless in its last four games. The Highlanders are third in the league in opponent hitting percentage (.184) and service aces per set (1.51). Four Highlanders have 100 or more kills, and Katarzyna Klocek leads the team with 189 kills.
Scouting the Spartans
The Spartans, 10-10 overall and 2-1 in ASUN play, face JU for the 16th time. Upstate is 2-13 in its previous 15 meetings against the Dolphins, and 0-4 against Darty. The Spartans lead the league in digs per set with 16.75. Five members of the Upstate squad have at least 100 kills, and the Spartans' Madison Haake is fourth in the league in assists per set (8.31). Emily Koelling is third among active players in the ASUN's career kills (940) and career blocks (285) categories.
"We are really going to focus on being ourselves this weekend, just letting our brand of volleyball shine through. I want each player to be themselves on the court, because when they do that good things happen. I am really excited to go on this road swing with this group and hope that we can find ways to scrap and grit out some wins on the road," continued Darty.
Up Next for JU
The Dolphins continue their six-game road swing next week at Florida Gulf Coast next Friday and Stetson University next Saturday.