Volleyball Hosts Atlantic Sun Matches This Weekend

Sept. 23, 2004

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After dropping their home opener to North Florida on Sept. 21, the JU volleyball squad (0-7) will open Atlantic Sun Conference play this weekend at Swisher Gymnasium. The Dolphins open with Georgia State (3-8) on Friday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m. before welcoming Mercer (5-7) on Saturday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m.

Georgia State enters the contest at 3-8 after losing three matches at the College of Charleston Invitational last weekend against host College of Charleston (3-0), Duke (3-0) and East Carolina (3-1). The Lady Panthers will play against Florida A&M on Thursday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. before travelling to Jacksonville.

Junior outside hitter Alex Blenche was named to the all-tournament team after leading the squad with a .356 hitting percentage for the weekend while also recording her first double-double against ECU (10 kills/13 digs). JU and Georgia State are tied, 9-9, in the all-time series.

Mercer, currently 5-7 on the year, also dropped three consecutive matches over the weekend after competing in the Virginia Commonwealth Invitational against host VCU (3-1), Georgia Southern (3-0) and Fairfield (3-0). The Bears will open A-Sun play at Stetson on Friday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m.

Sophomore outside hitter Liz Kane was named to the all-tournament team after recording 70 digs in three matches, including a match-high 30 against Fairfield. JU held a 14-0 advantage over Mercer in the all-time series until the Bears defeated the Dolphins, 3-0, on Sept. 11 at the Furman Invitational.

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.

Hickman Still Rolling: 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 four 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. 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 .241 hitting percentage, two double-doubles, 172 assists and six service aces. Hickman also ranks second with 15 blocks.

Set It Here: After a slow start, junior middle hitter Danielle Neville has made her presence felt at the net by posting a .432 hitting percentage (20-1-44) in her last two matches. The Greenwood Village, Colo., native hit .407 (12-1-27) with a team-high 12 kills against Binghamton on Sept. 18 to record her first double-digit mark of the season. She followed that effort with a .471 hitting percentage (8-0-17) against North Florida on Sept. 21 to commit only one hitting error in her last 44 attempts. After she opened the season hitting .025, Neville has raised her percentage to .180.

Dolphin Notables: Junior middle hitter Lindsay Ward has also increased her offensive performance with a team-tying 11 kills (11-2-22) and a .409 hitting percentage against North Florida...after its first three matches, JU was hitting .106. The squad has slowly increased its total to .150 after finishing with a .218 percentage against UNF...Erin Hickman became the first Dolphin to record a triple-double since Carrie Bosworth accomplished the feat (52 assists, 15 digs, 10 kills) against Troy State on Oct. 27, 2001...the Dolphins finished with a season-high 10.0 team blocks against North Florida, including a match-high six by Danielle Neville. Neville also leads the squad with seven service aces.