JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three Dolphins posted double-doubles as Jacksonville University volleyball earned a sweep on the weekend against ASUN Conference opponentswith a 3-1 victory over Florida Gulf Coast, Saturday evening at Historic Swisher Gymnasium.
"I'm really pleased with what we did tonight and I'm really proud of the girls," said Head Coach Julie Darty. "Early in the first set, we were talking about effort plays and not giving up on balls. As soon as we started making those plays and finishing them, I think that changed the momentum and energy on our side."
A trio of sophomores – Mallory Mattingly, Natalie Wehner, and Alleah Stamatis – posted double-doubles to lead Jacksonville, who is now 15-8 overall and 9-1 in the ASUN. Mattingly led the Dolphins behind 21 kills and 16 digs, while Wehner added 17 kills and 15 digs. Stamatis posted her second-straight 50+ assist match with 52 assists and 13 digs.
Sophomore Amarrah Cooks finished the night hitting a team-high .364 with 11 kills and five blocks. Seniors Jessica Armstrong (6 kills, 5 blocks) and Mackenzie Swan (21 digs) also contributed to the Dolphins' defensive effort.
The Dolphins took the first and second sets in extra points after they rebounded from early deficits in each game.
Down 4-1 in the first set, JU went on a 4-1 rally with kills from Mattingly and Cooks to tie the set at 4. Neither side led by more than two the rest of the set as the Dolphins battled 18 ties in the score before Wehner and senior Olga Nushtayeva had back-to-back kills for the deciding two points, 29-27.
Florida Gulf Coast (17-8, 7-2 ASUN) led by as many as four in set two before the Dolphins chipped away and battled to within one, 21-20. A 5-2 run highlighted by kills from Cooks, Wehner, and a Swan service ace brought Jacksonville a 25-24 advantage, and an Eagle attacking error capped the set for JU, 26-24.
Speaking on the closeness of the opening sets, Darty added, "It was all about who was going to make that play and coming down to the wire, it was neck and neck and there were some huge moments that we really had to figure out if we were going to finish it or not, and we found our will to win."
The Dolphins pressured FGCU early on after the intermission and answered each Eagle point to a 14-14 deadlock. However, Florida Gulf Coast ran out on a 5-1 run and closed the set on four straight points, 25-18.
"We had our errors here and there, but I think those are some growing pains that we're still trying to figure out," added Darty. "These are big moments in high pressure situations that we're in right now; I like that we're playing in these types of settings and getting more comfortable being uncomfortable."
Jacksonville held the advantage for the majority of the fourth set and led 13-11 before the visitors countered with a 5-1 run to steal the advantage, 16-14. Both teams battled down the stretch until Jacksonville called a timeout with the score tied at 22. The Dolphins finished out the set with kills from Cooks, Wehner, and a service ace from Swan to take the set, match, and sweep of the weekend, 25-23.
"The last time we played FGCU at their place, we've never been more uncomfortable. I think the difference tonight was we got the jitters out last night, we're playing at home, and it was much better execution this time around in terms of following the game plan. I'm proud of the girls; I think it was a great effort all across the board."
The Dolphins hit the road next weekend when they head to Lipscomb Friday, Nov. 3 for a 6:30 pm EST match. The following day, JU heads to Kennesaw State to take on the Owls at 7 p.m.