Dolphins Down USC Upstate
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Huge contributions by Jizzyan Gesualdo, Mallory Mattingly, and Olga Nushtayeva on Friday night helped the Dolphins emerge victorious over USC Upstate in a four-setter that featured 34 ties and 14 lead changes.
"We showed a lot of resilience and composure after that second set," said Head Coach Julie Darty. "Our block and our defense wasn't doing a lot, and we had to make some adjustments to come alive and convert some digs into kills. Cristina, Jess, and Mal had a great response stepping up offensively. Olga was doing a tremendous job for us, but she was the only one scoring points. We talked to the attackers about stepping up, and for each of them to finish with double-digit kills was huge."
The first set required extra points to be decided, with 15 of the match's 34 ties coming in that first frame. The Dolphins won the set 28-26 with Nushtayeva hitting .833 with five kills and Gesualdo already racking up a double-double with 10 assists and 12 digs.
Upstate bounced back in the second set with an incredible defensive effort. The Spartans forced JU from a 73 percent sideout percentage in the first set to 47 percent in the second. Kills from Jessica Armstrong and Mattingly got the Dolphins the lead briefly, but Upstate's advantage proved too much. The Spartans took the second set 25-19.
JU's offense really got going in the third set; Cristina Finan, Alleah Stamatis, Armstrong, and Gesualdo all contributed kills in the team's 25-22 edge of Upstate. The Dolphins led 2-1 heading into the fourth set.
Though the final set featured four more ties and three lead changes, all momentum belonged to the Dolphins. Jacksonville took the pivotal set 25-22 thanks to three double-doubles, 106 total digs, and four Dolphins each collecting double-digit kills.
The Dolphins return to action tomorrow evening against NJIT. It will be the final home match of the season, and the final time Gesualdo plays at home. A ceremony will be held prior to the match honoring Gesualdo.