Volleyball Heads to George Washington Invitational This Weekend

Sept. 15, 2004

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The Dolphins will be in search of their first win of the season this weekend after dropping three matches at the Furman Volleyball Invitational last week in Greenville, S.C. JU will compete in its final tournament of the season on Friday-Saturday, Sept. 17-18, as the squad competes in the George Washington Invitational. The Dolphins will open the event against host George Washington on Friday at 7 p.m. before concluding the weekend against Akron (10 a.m.) and Binghamton (3 p.m.) on Saturday.

George Washington is currently off to its worst start in program history (0-7) after going 0-3 last weekend at the Delaware Invitational in Newark, Del. The Colonials opened with a 3-1 loss to New Mexico before losing their final two matches to Albany (3-1) and Delaware (3-1). GW is led by sophomore outside hitter Juliene McLaughlin (4.35 kills/game) and sophomore setter Kaimana Lee (8.3 assists/game). JU will be playing the Colonials for the first time in program history.

Akron enters the tournament with a 7-2 record after going 3-1 at the Northern Arizona Invitational last weekend in Flagstaff, Ariz. The Zips opened with a pair of 3-0 wins over Davidson and Rider in the first day of competition. The squad split its final two matches with a 3-0 loss to UC Riverside and a 3-0 win over Northern Arizona. Junior outside hitter Emily Kocinski and sophomore middle hitter Magen Wood earned all-tournament honors. The Dolphins will face the Zips for the first time in program history.

Binghamton is 3-4 after a 1-2 finish at the Villanova Wildcat Classic in Philadelphia, Pa. The Bearcats lost their first two matches to Fairfield (3-0) and Villanova (3-0) before salvaging a win against Virginia Commonwealth (3-0). Senior middle blocker Anne Crocus was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 4.6 kills and 1.0 blocks per game. Sophomore setter Ashley Meffert leads the squad with 10.91 assists and 3.0 digs per game. JU will also be facing Binghamton for the first time.

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 on Sept. 5-6 as the Dolphins were forced to cancel five matchesto begin the season (three road, two 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 Dolphins' home match against Bethune-Cookman on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m. was also cancelled due to structural damage on the campus of Bethune-Cookman College. The Wildcats were unable to practice from Sept. 3-12.

Only two matches (Nov. 16 at USF/Nov. 25 vs. Bethune-Cookman) will be made up.

Jack of All Trades: Senior libero Kelly Ryals has proven to be the most versatile member of the Dolphin squad after serving two roles last weekend on a whim. After starting as JU's libero in the squad's first two losses, head coach Kevin Paul decided to make something happen with the lineup before facing Mercer. One of those moves was placing Ryals on the outside and the results proved to be one of the few bright spots of the weekend.

The Gainesville, Fla., native finished with 18 kills and 16 digs to record the first double-double of the season and the first double-digit kill mark for the Dolphins this season. It was the ninth double-double (kill/dig) effort of her career.

Not Gonna Fly: One of the problems the Dolphins encountered over the weekend was the squad's inability to hit for a good percentage. After three games, JU is currently hitting .106 as a team while its opponents are notching .307. The squad posted a season-low -.036 (21-25-111) against Ohio and .099 (35-21-141) against Furman before finishing the tournament with a .221 percentage (45-13-145). The biggest reason for the team's improvement was the decrease in attack errors, from 25-13.

Dolphin Notables: Junior setter Erin Donivan started as the Dolphins' libero against Mercer...sophomore setter Erin Hickman recorded a team-high .571 hitting percentage (8-0-14) against Mercer...junior middle hitter Lindsay Ward registered a team-high four blocks against Mercer...freshman middle hitter Katie Hendrian made her first collegiate start against Mercer.