NEWARK – Cristina Finan used 11 kills, five digs, one assist, and one block to lead the Jacksonville University volleyball team to its first ASUN conference win of the 2016 season. The Dolphins defeated the New Jersey Institute of Technology in four sets Friday.
"Tonight feels good," said Head Coach Julie Darty. "I'm just so happy for my team that they worked together and didn't give up after that rocky first set. We did such a good job on our defensive effort and I loved how we had contributions from every single person on our team. This was a match where we bought in and were focused on our side of the net and when we started to play our brand of volleyball good stuff started to happen."
The first set was extremely contentious through the first 22 points; Jacksonville and NJIT tied it up eight times. But a kill by Anna Rodrigues inspired a 4-0 run for the Highlanders, and that margin held fast through the set as NJIT won by four, 25-21.
Things seemed to click into place for JU in the second set. The Dolphins opened the game with a 6-0 run that featured three kills by Finan and a kill by Olga Nushtayeva. The Highlanders fought back within three at 9-6, but kills by Jessica Armstrong and Natalie Wehner and an ace by Shelby Babowicz got the Dolphins on a 4-0 run that made the margin seven points. Several NJIT errors extended the lead to 10 points at 20-10, and kills by Armstrong and Jizzyan Gesualdo gave the Dolphins a 25-16 victory.
Nine ties and three lead changes kept the third set close throughout. JU led 24-21 and had set point, but two Dolphin errors allowed NJIT within one point, forcing a Jacksonville timeout. Thankfully Finan was able to close the set with an impressive strike. JU led 2-1.
The final set was close early, tied through the first six points, until Armstrong stepped in with a big slam. That kill led to an 8-2 run for JU, giving the Dolphins a 12-5 lead. The margin grew to nine points by 19-10, and held the Highlanders off long enough to take the set 25-16, winning the match on an attack error by NJIT.
"I'm proud of the leadership Jizzy showed and how she stepped up to really run the show. We are excited to keep moving forward and keep playing our brand of volleyball," said Darty.
The Dolphins head south to USC Upstate to play the Spartans Sunday afternoon at 2 pending weather complications caused by Hurricane Matthew.
- Wehner had a .467 attack percentage and eight kills
- Gesualdo had 37 assists and seven digs
- Babowicz had three aces
- Swan had 26 digs