NEWARK, N.J. – Jacksonville University volleyball put together an all-around performance to remain unbeaten in the ASUN Conference with an impressive 3-0 victory at NJIT, Sunday afternoon.
"Today was a good day – our first sweep of the year to close out our first ASUN business trip of the year," said Head Coach Julie Darty. "I'm proud of the total team defensive effort that we put forth today. I think there was a genuine sense of urgency to keep the ball off the floor and go to work from the service line."
Senior Jessica Armstrong and sophomore Amarrah Cooks combined for 11 blocks, while sophomore Mallory Mattingly added a career-best six service aces as the Dolphins closed out their ASUN road weekend with the Highlanders, 25-19, 25-23, 25-17.
Cooks and Armstrong totaled six kills apiece in the effort and Mattingly added a team-high 11 kills. Senior Mackenzie Swan led both teams with 18 digs, and sophomore Alleah Stamatis added 31 assists in the victory.
Added Darty, "Our blocking and floor defense was intense and we have to bring that every single day. Another well-balanced attacking performance for us as Alleah did a great job of moving the ball around. I hope we can use this momentum, head home, and get back to work. We have a lot of opportunities to compete starting Tuesday with Bethune-Cookman and we have to be ready to grind it out with every opponent and get better every time we step on the floor."
Jacksonville improves to 8-7 overall and 3-0 in conference play, while NJIT falls to 9-9 overall and 1-2 in the ASUN.
Jacksonville and NJIT exchanged points throughout the early part of the set, with ties in the score on six separate occasions. Tied at 9, the Dolphins went on a seven-point run highlighted by back-to-back-to-back service aces from Mattingly to give JU a 16-9 advantage. Later in the set, the Dolphins used a 5-2 run with kills from Mattingly, senior Olga Nushtayeva, and a solo block and service ace from Stamatis to surge JU ahead, 23-15. The Highlanders took a timeout and answered back with three more points to threaten a comeback, but the Dolphins put the set away, 25-19.
A killer block from Cooks and Armstrong opened the first set, but the Highlanders didn't waste any time as six straight Highlander points gave the hosts a 7-3 lead. Following a Dolphin timeout, JU used a 4-1 run to come within one, 11-10. After the Dolphins battled back to tie the set at 17, NJIT regained the lead, 19-17, to force the Dolphins to take a timeout. After a wild rally, Jacksonville tied the set again, this time at 19. A long rally then fell in favor of the Dolphins to give JU its first lead of the set, 20-19; however, a scrappy NJIT team didn't make it easy as they fought back to tie the set at 21. A block from Armstrong and Cooks gave JU the advantage for the final time, 23-22. Following a Highlander timeout, the hosts tied the set at 23, but the Dolphins would not be deterred as a stop from Armstrong and Nushtayeva and a Highlander miscue lifted Jacksonville, 25-23.
Jacksonville opened the third game with a service ace from Mattingly – her fifth of the match – as the Dolphins quickly doubled up the Highlanders, 6-3. A 4-1 rally – capped by two more aces from Mattlingly to bring her total to six in the match – kept the Dolphins ahead, 12-6, as NJIJT called for time. The Highlanders matched the Dolphins point for point out of the timeout before taking three-straight to cut their deficit to three, 14-11. The Dolphins fought off the Highlanders in the middle of the set and led 19-14 before NJIT was forced to call time. Jacksonville doubled up the Highlanders, 6-3, to close out the set, 25-17, for the Dolphins first win this season in straight sets.
Tess Albyn led NJIT with 14 kills, while Olivia Welsch posted a team-best 10 digs.
The Dolphins return to action Tuesday, Oct. 3 to face Bethune-Cookman at UNF Arena for a 7:30 pm match.