CLEMSON, S.C. – Jacksonville University volleyball battled marathon matches to day two of the Big Orange Bash as the Dolphins fell in a five-set heartbreaker to Clemson, 3-2, in the first game, but rallied back with a 3-1 victory over Bethune-Cookman for their 50th-straight win over the Wildcats, Saturday at Clemson's Jervey Gym.
"The turnover from the loss against Clemson, then having about an hour before we went in and played a really scrappy Bethune-Cookman team who just plays with no fear, I don't know if you can get prepared for that," said Head Coach Julie Darty.
"It was more about our response, how we can bounce back after a loss like that, and turn around and put a product on the floor that we're proud of and that we feel good about. I'm not sure we did exactly that, but a win is a win and taking a win away from a really scrappy team like Bethune, it's always a positive to come up with a W next to your name. Overall it was a total team win today."
The Dolphins got several blocks early, with solo stops from freshman Hannah Marchand and senior Olga Nushtayeva, while Nushtayeva combined with sophomore Amarrah Cooks for a third to put pressure on the Tigers' attackers. The set remained close throughout, with neither team leading by more than four points as the game tied several times. However, the Dolphins used a six-point run with kills from senior Cristina Finan and freshman Madison Rayam to close out the set and take game one, 25-20.
Clemson (2-0) took a 5-0 lead early in set two, led by three kills from the Tigers' Megan McGinley. Clemson extended their lead to 9-1 before Jacksonville scored four of the next five point to come within five, 10-5, but the Dolphins were unable to recover from the hosts' early lead as Clemson evened the match at 1-1 with a 25-7 set win.
Sophomore Alleah Stamatis used a quick touch to give the Dolphins the first point of set three, but a four-point Clemson rally gave the hosts a 4-1 lead. Jacksonville charged back with kills from Marchand, Mattingly, and Cooks to keep the match within reach, despite trading points and tying the set on 12 separate occasions. Jacksonville led 18-17 after a miscue from a Tiger attacker, but Clemson was able to sneak back and steal set two, 25-20.
Jacksonville kept the pressure on high in the fourth set, taking the first two points and not letting Clemson lead by more than two points. Marchand served up back-to-back aces to tie the game at 9-9 and the Dolphins held off Clemson's advances with kills from Nushtayeva and senior Jessica Armstrong for a 13-12 lead. Twelve ties in the game highlighted the intensity and with the score tied at 16, the Dolphins won four-straight points to command a 20-16 advantage. Clemson rallied back with three-straight points to come within one, 20-19, and fought for every point thereafter. Jacksonville shut the door on the Tigers, however, and a Mattingly kill evened the match yet again with a 25-22 win.
Nushtayeva opened the final set with three of the Dolphins' first four points, but Clemson managed to make its way back into the set and take a 6-5 lead. The Tigers took an 8-6 lead halfway through the set before a 5-1 Dolphin rally surged JU ahead, 11-9. Clemson knotted the game at 11 and a controversial net violation with Jacksonville ahead, 13-12, allowed Clemson back into the game at 13-all. The Tigers finished off two points to take the set, 15-13, and the match, 3-2.
Mattingly finished with 15 kills and seven digs, while junior Lauren Petersen led the team with 20 assists. Marchand and Nushtayeva added a game-high six blocks each.
Down 9-8, Jacksonville muscled in three kills and went on an 8-3 rally to command a 16-12 advantage. The Wildcats (0-3) used four-straight points to come back to just one point down, 19-18, and later tied the set at 21. Back-and-forth points by both teams saw 13 separate game points in the marathon set, and the Dolphins ultimately came out on top after a Wildcat miscue, followed by a kill from Mattingly, put the set out of reach, 37-35.
Jacksonville led by three, 7-4, early in the set before the Wildcats battled back to come within one, 8-7. The Dolphins then took off on a 7-1 run to jumpstart its largest lead in the tournament, 19-11. JU never backed off the gas pedal and a solo block from Mattingly put the set to rest, 25-17.
Tied at 9-all, Bethune-Cookman managed five of the next six points to take a 14-10 lead. Determined to not let the game slip away, Jacksonville battled back with a 6-3 rally to come within one, 17-16. However, the Wildcats powered ahead despite another five-point Dolphin surge, and Bethune-Cookman escaped with a 25-22 win.
A service ace from Swan tied the set at 3 early on, but the Dolphins continued to battle and take advantage of Wildcat errors. Neither team won more than two consecutive points until Jacksonville took five-straight points down the stretch for a 21-17 lead. The Dolphins kept the pressure on and took the set, 25-22, and the match, 3-1.
Four Dolphins tallied double-digit kills, as Mattingly (16 kills, 14 digs) and Finan (10 kills, 14 digs) led JU behind double-double performances. Nushtayeva (14 kills) and Marchand (10 kills) also had double-digit kills. Stamatis dished out 32 assists, while Swan added a team-high 19 digs.
"Things are progressing nicely as we imagined. We had a great first outing for some of our freshmen; it's been nice to see how they respond to the pressure. Our sophomore-junior-senior leadership is fantastic. Our upperclassmen are carrying a load and making mature, veteran plays that we need them to make," Darty added.
"The feel-good vibe that's happening on court and on the bench is one of the most important parts of our success. Everybody's communicating, everybody's deciding that no matter if they're on the floor or on the bench, they have a role on this team and everybody's role, all 14 of them, matters immensely."
The Dolphins take flight next weekend when they head to the University of Wyoming for the UniWyo Invite.