JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The River City Rumble once again lived up to its reputation Friday; three sets required extras in the four-set match between Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida. The Ospreys defeated the Dolphins 3-1.
"It's always a battle going into UNF and taking part in the River City Rumble, but I'm really proud of the girls and I think that there are so many positives from this game to talk about," said Head Coach Julie Darty. "I think it was a stellar night for Tina, Alleah, and Mallory, reaching those career high numbers this early in their careers, especially for the two freshman. I'm really proud of our outsides and how they stepped up."
Jacksonville took the crowd out of the game early with a 7-4 run to open the first set. North Florida rumbled back with a 10-7 run, tying the game at 14-14. But Jizzyan Gesualdo ended the run with a tricky kill, causing a media timeout. The two teams traded points for a bit before a kill from Mallory Mattingly and an Osprey error stretched the Dolphin lead to three, 20-17, forcing a UNF timeout. The Dolphins stretched their lead to as much as four points, but North Florida held off set point five times to come back and take the first set in extras, 27-25.
Three Dolphin errors in the early going of the second set allowed the Ospreys to establish a 7-3 lead, but JU fought back with big swings from Jessica Armstrong and Cristina Finan, snatching the lead for the first time at 10-9. Momentum swung back and forth throughout; the set featured 11 ties and eight lead changes. But the final lead change went to UNF, 23-22, and the Ospreys closed the set with a 2-1 run to win 25-23. North Florida led the match 2-0.
The third set was close early, tied at 4-4. UNF used an 8-2 run to take a 12-6 lead, but JU came storming back with a 9-3 run of its own to tie the game at 15-15. JU briefly held the lead 19-18 and again at 20-19, but the Ospreys used a 4-0 run to take a commanding 23-20 lead. The Dolphins responded in kind, taking a 24-23 lead. UNF held off set point twice, but JU emerged victorious, taking the third set 27-25. UNF led 2-1.
The momentum swing was very visible in the fourth set. Every break the Ospreys had in the first and second set went the Dolphins' way in the fourth, and soon JU's lead ballooned to seven, 15-8. But UNF refused to go away. The Ospreys used a 16-9 run to tie the set at 24-24, surviving two set points. North Florida wrapped up the match with a 2-0 run, winning the set 26-24 and the match 3-1.
"There was a lot of momentum on our side in the fourth set, but we couldn't side out," continued Darty. "We struggled to get out of a few rotations that we were stuck in. I'm hopeful that we learned from this and truly understand that it's always going to be a battle when it's a JU-UNF game. We're ready to have a little time off to rest some injuries that we have going on, and get back at it in practice on Monday."
- Finan set a new career best of 18 kills. Her previous best of 12 kills happened twice; against FGCU on 10/17/15, and versus Davidson on 08/27/16.
- Finan also had 13 digs to secure her second double-double of the season.
- Gesualdo's 45 assists put her at 3,105 for her career. The senior from Ponce, P.R., is just 29 assists away from tying Carrie Bosworth for fourth all-time. Jizzy is now 14th on the ASUN all-time list.
- Mackenzie Swan extended her streak of games of double-digit digs to 21.
- Mattingly had 15 kills, tying a career best set against Winthrop earlier this season.
- Alleah Stamatis had 21 digs, a career-best for the freshman from Lexington, Ky.
- Armstrong had six total blocks, tying a season-best.