SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2004
Volleyball To Face No. 7 Stanford In First Round of NCAA's
Nov. 28, 2004
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville University volleyball team will face No. 7 Stanford in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Championship Friday at 5 p.m. at Gather Gymnasium in Tallahassee, Fla. Host Florida A&M will play No. 12 Florida in the second match at 7 p.m. Stanford (24-6), which is the tournament's 11th overall national seed, is one of just four schools to have earned bids in all 24 championships, while JU is one of eight schools making its initial appearance in the tourney. The Dolphins (15-13, 8-2) earned their first bid to the NCAA Tournament in the Division I era after winning their first Atlantic Sun Championship with a 3-2 victory over Belmont on Nov. 20 in Orlando.
JU has never faced a team from the Pacific-10 Conference. The Dolphins are 14-10 all-time against Florida A&M (28-2), including a 3-0 loss to the 22nd-ranked Rattlers on Oct. 28, and are 0-12 all-time against Florida (27-4). Other schools making their first NCAA appearance include Albany, Iona, Long Island, Rice, Towson, Wichita State and Yale. Stanford joins Pacific, Penn State and UC Santa Barbara as teams to have appeared in every NCAA Volleyball Championship.
After a 0-8 start to the 2004 season, first-year head coach Kevin Paul directed the Dolphins to a 15-5 finish, including a school-record 10 consecutive wins over Atlantic Sun Conference opponents. JU appeared in its first NCAA Tournament in 1983 at the Division II level and also won its first conference title that same season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
As the No. 4 seed in the Atlantic Sun Championship in Orlando, JU defeated No. 5 UCF (3-0) and No. 1 Florida Atlantic (3-2) before capturing its first A-Sun title with a 3-2 win over No. 2 Belmont. Junior middle hitter Lindsay Ward (Fernandina Beach, Fla.) was named A-Sun Championship MVP, while sophomore outside hitter Eva Stoilova (Sofia, Bulgaria) and junior outside hitter Joanna Silva (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) were named to the Atlantic Sun All-Championship team. Silva also set a new A-Sun Championship record by tallying 63 digs in three matches (21.0 dpg).
Since the Atlantic Sun Conference began competing in the NCAA Tournament in 1994, the conference is 4-10 overall, including a first-round victory by UCF over Cincinnati (3-2) last season in Gainesville, Fla. UCF is the only member of the A-Sun to win an NCAA match, while JU joined UCF, Florida Atlantic and Georgia State as the only members of the conference to advance to the tournament.