JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The volleyball team of Jacksonville University hopes to continue its steady improvement this weekend in two road games. The Dolphins will travel to Florida Gulf Coast on Friday and Stetson on Saturday.
"Another weekend and another opportunity for us to continue to focus on getting better every time we take the court," said Head Coach Julie Darty. "I'm very excited for this road trip. We had a short week of practice with the return travel after USC Upstate but I liked our energy, effort, and attitude a lot this week."
- Darty is 3-2 against FGCU and 2-2 against Stetson in her three years coaching the Dolphins.
- The series record for FGCU and JU is pretty close. The Eagles have an 11-10 advantage all-time.
- The Dolphins and Hatters have been playing each other for more than 35 years. JU is 52-11 all-time vs Stetson.
- Jizzyan Gesualdo has 526 assists this season, fourth in the ASUN. The senior from Ponce, P.R., is now the active career-leader in the conference with 2,958 all-time.
- Mackenzie Swan is the reigning ASUN Conference Defensive Player of the Week after recording 39 digs against NJIT and USC Upstate
- The Dolphin defense has improved significantly in league play with 2.03 blocks per set in ASUN competition compared to 1.74 before league play
Scouting the Eagles
FGCU is 17-3 this season, 4-1 in the ASUN, and 10-0 at home. The Eagles have outscored their conference opponents in 13 of 16 sets played, and hit an astounding .281 (14th in the NCAA and first in the ASUN). Libero Courtney Stephens is averaging 4.06 digs per set, setter Maggie Rick leads the ASUN in assists with 10.81 dimes per set, and hitter Amanda Carroll is 12th in the NCAA in kills per set (4.48) as a sophomore.
Scouting the Hatters
Stetson is 4-16 this season with a 1-4 record in conference play, but the Dolphins haven't won in DeLand since 2012. Shelby Connors is fourth the conference with 60 blocks this season, middle blocker Morgan Eiland set a career high against Lipscomb with six total blocks, and hitter McKenna Foster holds the third highest ace per set ratio in the conference (.37).
"We are continuing to get better at being ourselves. I think that we are working super hard on our side of the ball, and that's awesome to see. When we can really embrace who we are and how we need to play, good things will happen. This is a long process and we have a long way to go with this season, so we've shifted our focus and kind of buckled in at remaining positive and focused with where we are trying to go," continued Darty.
Up Next for JU
The Dolphins have just two games left on their six-game road trip. They'll head to Daytona Beach Tuesday to face Bethune-Cookman, and then head across town next Friday to take on North Florida. JU returns home October 28 & 29 against Stetson and FGCU.