"I was anxious to see how we'd respond in a mid-week matchup," said Head Coach Julie Darty. "We hadn't played a mid-week game all season, so to go on the road and play at Bethune was exciting. We've really been focusing on our brand of volleyball and what's happening on our side of the net this week, and after the way we played and finished against Stetson I think we're getting to the place where they buy in consistently."
The Wildcats kept pace with the Dolphins through the first 18 points, tying up the match five times. The Dolphins then went on a 9-3 run to go up 18-12, but again Bethune-Cookman fought back, pulling within two points, 20-18, to force a JU timeout. Out of the timeout Mallory Mattingly got a big kill and a service ace to help the Dolphins close the set with a 5-1 run. Jacksonville went up 1-0 with a 25-19 win.
Bethune-Cookman fought even harder in the second set, jumping out to a 12-6 lead that forced a Jacksonville timeout. Darty's pause again proved well timed as the Dolphins used a 10-3 run to take a 16-15 lead. The two teams traded points for a bit, but Bethune-Cookman closed the set with a 7-3 run to win the set 25-20 and tie the match.
The Wildcats came out of the locker room raring for a fight, winning six of the first nine points. But history proved too much to overcome; the Dolphins tied up the set six times before taking the lead for the first time 18-17. JU held the lead for the rest of the set, winning 25-22. The Dolphins led 2-1 after three sets.
Bethune-Cookman gave it their last shot in the fourth set, opening the game with a 7-3 run. But JU used a 15-6 run of its own to take an 18-13 lead, and held the Wildcats at arms-length long enough to take the set 25-20 and the match 3-1.
"This was kind of a rollercoaster match," continued Darty. "We weren't playing good, clean volleyball all the time, but in the end we were able to play longer rallies and better defense volleyball and that resulted in a win. I'm really proud of how our middles played tonight. They're very efficient and very aggressive in their attacking. Olga and Jess really anchored us with some ridiculous numbers. If we can have our middles play that well consistently good things will come for us. I hope that we can carry this confidence into Friday when we go to North Florida."
- Nushtayeva had 18 kills and a .586 attack percentage while collecting three blocks.
- Jessica Armstrong had 13 kills, three blocks, and a dig.
- Mattingly had nine kills, eight digs, and three aces.
- Mackenzie Swan had 14 digs, her 20th-consecutive game of at least 10 digs.
- Jizzyan Gesualdo had 44 assists, putting her career total at 3,060 assists. She is just 74 assists away from tying Carrie Bosworth for fourth place in the JU record book.
- The Dolphins improved to 49-0 all-time against Bethune-Cookman.