Volleyball Hosts Home Opener Against North Florida on Tuesday

Sept. 20, 2004

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After completing their weekend at the George Washington Invitational without a win, the Dolphins will finally host their 2004 home opener at Swisher Gymnasium after two cancellations earlier in the year, both due to Hurricane Frances. JU will host North Florida on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 7:30 p.m. before opening Atlantic Sun Conference play at home against Georgia State and Mercer this weekend. The GW Invitational marked the final tournament on the Dolphins schedule in 2004.

North Florida, currently ranked 13th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Div. II polls, heads into the week with a 5-4 record on the year after dropping a 3-1 contest to Barry at the UNF Arena on Sept. 18. After beginning the season 2-0, the Lady Ospreys have gone 3-4 in their last seven matches, including a 2-2 record on the road. Bryan Bunn is in his fourth season as head coach of the UNF program and has compiled a 118-29 record during that time.

Senior middle blocker Jackie Struck leads UNF with an average of 4.27 kpg and 1.39 bpg. Senior setter Valerie Martinez also paces the offense with an average of 13.39 apg. The Dolphins will face UNF for only the sixth time in program history with the Ospreys holding a 3-2 series advantage.

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 played 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 matches to 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.

Hickman Named All-Tourney: Sophomore setter Erin Hickman has taken advantage of her opportunity as the primary setter for the Dolphin offense after adjustments were made to the JU lineup. In the first three matches of the season, Hickman shared the setter duties with junior Erin Donivan while senior Kelly Ryals was slated in the libero position. To help spark the offense, Ryals was moved to outside hitter while Donivan took over the libero spot.

In three matches since the lineup changes, Hickman recorded her first career triple-double (33 assists, 13 kills and 12 digs) against George Washington on Sept. 17 and tallied her eighth 40-assist match of her career (42) against Binghamton on Sept. 18. During that span, she also hit .290 (26-8-62) while averaging 9.91 assists, 2.5 digs, 2.4 kills and 0.5 blocks per game. For her efforts, she was selected to the GW Invitational All-Tournament Team. With a minimum of 30 attempts, she currently leads the squad with a .265 hitting percentage as well as 137 assists and six service aces. Hickman also ranks second with 13 blocks.

Rose Finding Her Swing: Senior outside hitter Candice Rose is starting to get back into the swing of the JU offense after a slow start to the season. In her first three matches, Rose had 19 kills (1.9 per game) and was hitting only .105. Over the weekend, the senior recorded 30 kills (2.7 per game) with a .221 hitting percentage (30-11-86) including her first double-double of the season against George Washington (13 kills/15 digs). She currently leads the squad with 49 kills and ranks third with 46 digs.

Dolphin Notables: Junior middle hitter Danielle Neville led the Dolphins with 12 kills against Binghamton after hitting .407 (12-1-27) from the floor with only one error. She also finished with a season-high eight blocks during the match...after its first three matches, JU was hitting .106. The squad increased its total to .139 after finishing with a .167 percentage over the weekend...North Florida assistant Gabi Raposo and Dolphin junior transfer Joanna Silva are both natives of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil...junior middle hitter Megan Ward finished with a season-high eight kills and a .316 hitting percentage (8-2-19) against Binghamton.