TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 07, 2004
Volleyball Opens 2004 Season at Furman Invitational

Sept. 7, 2004

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After having its first four matches cancelled by the effects of Hurricane Frances, the Jacksonville Dolphins volleyball team will open the 2004 season at the Furman Invitational in Greenville, S.C., this weekend. The Dolphins will begin the two day, three-match event in Timmons Arena against Ohio University on Friday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. JU will conclude the event on Saturday, Sept. 4, against host Furman at 12 p.m. and Mercer at 3 p.m.

Ohio enters the tournament with a 3-1 record after going 2-1 at the Coca-Cola/MSU Volleyball Invitational last weekend in East Lansing, Mich. The Bobcats opened with a 3-0 loss to 20th-ranked Michigan State before sweeping their final two matches against Florida A&M (3-0) and St. John's (3-0). Ohio is led by senior setter Brianna Adamovsky (13.25 assists/game) and junior outside/middle hitter Julia Winkfield (4.33 kills/game). JU will be playing the Bobcats for the first time in program history.

Furman is currently 2-2 after opening the season at the East Carolina City Bistro Invitational last weekend in Greenville, N.C. The Paladins dropped a 3-1 contest to Lamar before bouncing back with a 3-2 win over host East Carolina in the first day of competition. The squad split its final two matches with a 3-0 win over High Point and a 3-0 loss to Mercer. Freshman Chibuzo Oquocha earned all-tournament honors after averaging 4.27 kills per game. JU is tied with Furman in the all-time series with a 3-3 mark.

Mercer also finished its weekend with a 2-2 record at the East Carolina City Bistro Invitational. The Bears opened the tournament with a 3-1 win over Lamar before falling to High Point in five games (3-2) on Sept. 3. Mercer dropped its next contest to East Carolina (3-1) but managed to split its weekend with a 3-0 win over Furman. Senior outside hitter Katie Plummer led the Bears with 62 kills (3.88 kpg), including 36 in the final two matches. Mercer leads the all-time series against JU (13-1), but the Dolphins won its first match against the Bears last season (3-0).

HEAD COACH KEVIN PAUL

After three years of serving as the Dolphins' top assistant, Kevin Paul enters his first season as head coach of the JU volleyball program. During his tenure, JU has reached the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament each season, including a 14-5 finish in 2003 after overcoming a 1-10 start. During the squad's 14-5 run to end the year, JU won 11 consecutive matches. Paul joined the Dolphin staff after six seasons as an assistant coach at Eastern Kentucky (1994-2000), where he helped coach seven Colonels to All-Ohio Valley Conference honors. In addition to assisting the EKU varsity squad, Paul also served as the head coach and was a player on the Eastern Kentucky men's club team. Paul helped lead the squad to a pair of National Intramural Recreational-Sports Association national rankings, finishing 13th in 1997 and 22nd in 1998.

WEATHERING THE STORM

Jacksonville was one of the programs most effected by the arrival of Hurricane Frances this past weekend as the Dolphins were forced to cancel their first four matches of the 2004 season (three road, one home). JU was scheduled to compete in the USF Invitational in Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 3-4, but flight cancellations by George Mason and UT-Chattanooga ended the event. The Dolphins' home opener on Sept. 6 was also cancelled due to TCU not wanting to make the four-day, 1,021-mile trip through Gainesville and Jacksonville. The Dolphin football, men's soccer and cross country teams also had events cancelled over the weekend.

TOP RETURNERS

#9 Danielle Neville (Jr., MH, 6-1): Played in all but one match during the year...led the team and ranked third in the Atlantic Sun with a .315 hitting percentage...led the squad with 96 blocks (10 solo, 86 assists) and an average of 1.02 blocks per game...was also named team MVP...currently tied for fifth in the JU career record book with 220 total blocks and 190 block assists...hit a career-best .588 (11-1-17) at Gardner-Webb...finished fourth on the squad with 182 kills.

#3 Candice Rose (Sr., OH, 5-11): Played in 28-of-29 matches...ranked third on the squad with 211 kills (2.48 k/g)...registered a career-high three double-doubles on the year (kills/digs)...finished with 11 double-digit kill and five double-digit dig matches.

#11 Kelly Ryals (Sr., LIB, 5-10): Appeared in 24 matches, mainly as the squad's libero...led the Dolphins with 265 digs (3.27 dpg)...finished with double-digit digs in 12 matches, including a season-high 24 vs. Troy State in the A-Sun Championships...tallied a double-double (17 kills/23 digs) with a career-high four total blocks vs. Birmingham Southern...followed that effort with 14 kills and 14 digs against Xavier.

#10 Eva Stoilova (So., OH, 5-11): Played in 20 matches...named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Team after leading the squad with 47 service aces...ranked sixth in the nation in aces per game (2.35 apg)...ranked second on the squad with 218 kills (3.25 kpg) and 2.97 digs per game (199)...finished the year with seven double-doubles, including four straight to end the season...had her first double-double (14 kills/10 digs) vs. Belmont...followed that performance with a 13-kill, 12-dig effort against Lipscomb...tallied a team and career-high seven aces at Savannah State...posted a season-high 18 kills against Florida Atlantic...notched a personal-best 19 digs vs. Georgia Southern.