The 2009 season gets underway as the JU volleyball team gets set to compete in the Radisson-UCF Invitational this weekend in Orlando.
The Dolphins begin the tournament host UCF on Friday at 1 p.m. at The Venue at UCF. JU will conclude the event with two matches on Saturday - Bethune-Cookman (11 a.m.) and Florida Atlantic (5:30 p.m.).
The opening match against the Knights can be followed on GameTracker by logging onto JUDolphins.com.
Head coach Shaun Kupferberg
Shaun Kupferberg is in his fourth season at the helm of the Dolphin volleyball program.
Last year, the Dolphins reached 20 wins for the first time since 1988 and finished with their lowest loss total in the Division I era. In fact, the program has increased its win total each season under Kupferberg - 18 (2006), 19 (2007) and 20 (2008).
In his second year with the program, Kupferberg led JU to its most wins (19) since 1997 and tied for the most conference wins (8) in program history. The back-to-back appearances in the conference tournament final were also the first time a Dolphin squad had accomplished the feat since JU began conference play in 1983.
In his inaugural year at JU, Kupferberg went through growing pains with his new squad but eventually led JU to the A-Sun Tournament Finals for only the second time in program history.
Prior to JU, Kupferberg led Northwest to a 91-52 record and only one losing season (his first) in five years. During his tenure, he led Northwest to its highest national ranking ever (10th) and to its first-ever regional championship match.
Walroth named A-Sun All-Preseason
Senior libero Shelley Walroth broke another JU record last season and is now setting her sights on becoming only the 26th player in NCAA history to surpass 2,000 career digs.
After tallying the JU single-season record for digs, Walroth surpassed Julie Heipp - 1,324 (1991-94) on the career list with 25 against Georgia Southern on Sept. 30.
With all the JU records in her possession, her targets are now the A-Sun, NCAA and family bragging rights . Her sister, Julie, tallied 2,095 career digs to set the program record at Evansville (2004-07).
The younger Walroth currently holds the family single-season record but sits at 1,871 in her career and needs 225 to become the undisputed head of the family.
In the A-Sun record book, Kaena Apana of ETSU holds the single-season record with 750 and Anne Mullins of Lipscomb is the career holder with 1,969. Walroth is currently 99 off the pace for the career record.
In the NCAA, the Division I record for career digs is 2,791 by Paula Gentil of Minnesota from 2002-05. Walroth would need 921 more digs in order to surpass the mark. In order to reach 2,000 career digs, Walroth is 129 away from that plateau.
Walroth, who led the conference in digs, ranked fourth in the nation with an average of 5.87 digs per set to earn AVCA “Libero of the Year” Honorable Mention honors.
JU opened the 2008 season with a 3-2 loss against UCF...the Dolphins have not opened the regular season with a win since a 3-1 victory over UMKC in the University of Louisville Tournament in 2006...JU is 1-2 to start of the regular season under the direction of head coach Shaun Kupferberg.
Defense leads the way
JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg sets a precedent on defense and the stats have proven that since his arrival in 2006. Last season, JU took defense to a new level as the Dolphin led nearly every category.
In his first season, the Dolphins ranked first in blocks, fourth in opponent hitting percentage and fifth in digs. In year two, JU ranked first in blocks, third in opponent hitting percentage and sixth in digs. Last year, the Dolphins set the standard by ranking first in blocks and opponent hitting percentage and second in digs.
The yearly improvements can be attributed to a changing of the guard in recruits to fit Kupferberg’s defensive style and his change from a 5-1 format to a 6-2 set this year.
A new wrinkle payed off
In seven years of coaching, JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg has had a great deal of success running a 5-1 formation but a versatile squad in 2008 created an experiment which has payed huge dividends for Kupferberg and the Dolphins.
The standard lineup, which is used by most programs, keeps the setter in through all rotations and would call for an occasional substitution during a serve.
After a 2-1 start to the 2008 season, JU went stagnant with three consecutive losses and the coaching staff decided to shake things up.
Kupferberg implemented a 6-2 formation for the first time in his career. The new look incorporates two setters but instead of leaving them in throughout the match, he substitutes two players (OH & S) after three rotations. The outside hitter would replace the setter on the front row and the new setter would start with a serve and rotate two more times in the back row. Due to the versatility of having two setters (sophomore Hannah Munneke and freshman Ashley August), Kupferberg has the ability to keep an extra swing in the front row, increase the size of his block and strengthen his defense on the back row.
Through the three game slide (Sept. 5-9), JU hit .155 (97-51-297) with an average of 9.7 kills, nine assists, 11.3 digs and one block per set. Opponents hit .317 (139-46-317), with 13.9 kills, 12.8 assists, 12.6 digs and 1.5 blocks per set.
Since making the lineup change on Sept. 12, JU is 17-5 with a .236 hitting percentage while averaging 13.1 kills, 12.0 assists, 16.4 digs, and 2.4 blocks per set. Conversely, opponents are hitting .120 with 10.8 kills, 9.8 assists, 15.3 digs and 1.7 blocks per set.
With the addition of freshman setter Nicole Teplitz, Kupferberg has the option of using either formation in 2009.
Some new faces
Among the new faces on the 2009 Dolphin roster will be one transfer and three freshmen.
Freshman Alliya Drzewiecki (Florida State) makes her way to the First Coast along with freshmen Megan Gorey (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.), Allison Loeppky (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Nicole Teplitz (Stuart, Fla.).
JU picked fourth in A-Sun preseason poll
The JU volleyball team has been picked to finish fourth in the 2009 A-Sun Preseason Coaches Poll.
Lipscomb was tabbed the preseason favorite with 111 points (five first-place votes) while reining tournament champion Belmont and regular-season champ Florida Gulf Coast (three first-place votes apiece) rounded out the top three. JU, Mercer, ETSU, UNF, Kennesaw State, Campbell, Stetson and USC Upstate rounded out the rest of the field, respectfully.
Walroth named all-conference
Despite a fourth-place finish in the preseason poll, JU earned a selection to the preseason all-conference team - senior libero Shelley Walroth.
Walroth, who holds the single season and career records at JU for digs, became the first Dolphin to garner A-Sun Defensive “Player of the Year” honors and also earned first team all-conference accolades in 2008.
In the A-Sun record book, Walroth is 99 digs shy of surpassing Lipscomb’s Anne Mullins (1,969) and she is 129 shy of becoming the 26th player in Division I history to tally 2,000 career digs. Walroth, who led the conference in digs, ranked fourth in the nation with an average of 5.87 digs per set.