JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Behind an impressively efficient offensive performance that saw Jacksonville University volleyball hit .371 in the match, the Dolphins swept North Florida in the season's second edition of the River City Rumble, 3-0, Friday evening at UNF Arena.
"Overall, I'm just so pleased with the team's performance," said Head Coach Julie Darty. "Coming into UNF and getting a sweep really doesn't happen for us. Hitting .371 as a team just tells me we took care of the ball tonight."
Four Dolphins hit .450 or better as Jacksonville misplaced just seven attacks in the match for their eighth win in the past nine matches. JU's offense wasn't the only impressive part of the match, however, as four others had at least 10 digs in the Dolphins' first sweep of Ospreys since 2014. It is also the first time since 2013 that JU has taken both regular season matches from UNF.
The Dolphins now hold a 13-8 overall record on the season and are 7-1 against ASUN Conference opponents.
Leading the charge for JU was sophomore Natalie Wehner with her fifth double-double effort of the season behind 11 kills and 15 digs. Senior Jessica Armstrong and sophomore Alleah Stamatis both set new career highs in attack percentage as Armstrong totaled eight kills on 10 attempts (.800), while Stamatis added five kills on eight attempts (.625). Stamatis also contributed 39 assists, six digs, and two blocks. Neither Armstrong nor Stamatis recorded an attacking error in the match.
With hitting percentages of .529 and .462, senior Olga Nushtayeva and sophomore Amarrah Cooks also neared their career-highs. Nushtayeva finished the match with 10 kills and a pair of blocks, while Cooks totaled seven kills and three blocks.
"Offensively, we were very efficient; we managed the ball really well. Our middles did a nice job of getting up in transition and finding opportunities for themselves to swing fast and score. Defensively and at the service line, Kenzie was an anchor for us.
We had a really gritty week at practice. We got after them this week in practice in preparation for this and the second half of ASUN play. It really paid off and showed that they were mentally dialed in and ready to go."
The Dolphins leapt out to a 4-0 advantage in the opening set with back-to-back kills from Nushtayeva and Mattingly. JU cruised to a 10-4 lead before the Ospreys (9-16, 1-7 ASUN) were able to score two consecutive points. A 7-2 run in the middle of the set, including two blocks and a kill from Cooks, allowed the Dolphins to double up the Ospreys, 20-10. UNF managed five of the next eight points, but the Dolphins closed out the set on a Murr service ace to take the first set, 25-15.
A more evenly matched game two saw the teams' trading points early on, as UNF briefly led 7-6. A four-point Dolphin run gave JU a 10-7 advantage – one that they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the set. With a 15-11 lead, JU forced UNF to call a time out and despite two Osprey points out of the break, Jacksonville ran away on a 7-2 streak to put the set out of reach and lift JU to a 25-18 win in the second game.
Another quick start for the Dolphins saw Mattingly, Wehner, and Stamatis give JU its first four points – all kills – as JU pushed its lead to 7-3 on a kill from Armstrong. North Florida pressured Jacksonville with an answer to each of the next five Dolphin points, and the Dolphins extended their lead to 17-11 to force UNF to use both timeouts in a span of six points. The Ospreys came out of the timeout charging and found themselves giving the UNF fans some hope as they cut their deficit to two, 20-18. Not to be deterred, the Dolphins surged forward with five of the next seven points as Cooks put home the final point to give JU the 3-0 sweep, 25-20.
The Dolphins return to action next weekend when they play host to Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast.