Volleyball opens A-Sun play this weekend in Nashville

After completing the Southern Miss La Quinta Inn Invitational, the JU volleyball team (3-3, 0-0) will open Atlantic Sun Conference play this weekend in Nashville, Tenn. The Dolphins open against tournament champion Belmont (2-7, 0-1) at the Curb Event Center on Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET. JU concludes the weekend against Lipscomb (4-3, 1-0) at Allen Arena on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. Both matches can be viewed on ASun.TV, with the Belmont match also available on GameTracker, by logging onto 

Dolphin notables
Senior middle blocker Nicki Kent was named to the Southern Miss La Quinta Inn Invitational All-Tournament Team after finishing with 22 kills (2.0 kps), a .246 hitting percentage and 17 blocks (1.55 bps) in three matches...senior outside hitter Brooke Singleton led the Dolphin offense over the weekend with 33 kills (3.0 kps) in three matches...sophomore outside hitter Kathryn Kane ranked second on the squad with 26 kills (2.36 kps) and 44 digs (4.0 dps) in three matches while also tallying her first career double-double (16 kills, 21 digs) against Louisiana Tech...freshman middle blocker Alison Loeppky made her collegiate debut over the weekend after winning gold with her native Manitoba at the Canada Games.

Walroth counting down
Senior libero Shelley Walroth reached yet another milestone and is setting her sights on cracking the top 25 spots in NCAA history. After tallying the JU single-season record for digs as a freshman, Walroth surpassed Julie Heipp - 1,324 (1991-94) on the career list last season with 25 against Georgia Southern on Sept. 30, 2008. As a junior, she earned first team all-conference and A-Sun Defensive “Player of the Year” accolades while also garnering 2008 AVCA “Libero of the Year” Honorable Mention honors after ranking fourth in the nation with 5.87 dps. This year, Walroth added an A-Sun record to her belt by overtaking Ann Mullins of Lipscomb (1,969) for career digs with 21 against Sam Houston State on Sept. 5. With only nine digs remaining until she reaches 2,000 in her career, her next targets are family bragging rights and the NCAA Top 25. Walroth’s 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 1,991 in her career and needs 105 to become the undisputed head of the family. In the NCAA career standings, Walroth needs 230 digs to crack the top 25 all-time and has a chance to etch her name in the record books for some time. The Division I record for career digs is 3,176 by Lara Newberry of Chattanooga from 2005-08. Walroth currently leads the A-Sun with an average of 5.71 digs per set.

Dolphins in the A-Sun rankings
In the team rankings, JU is first in opponent hitting percentage (.134), blocks (2.05 bps) and digs (18.33 dps)... third in service aces (1.57 aps)...fourth in assists (11.05 aps)...fifth in kills (11.90 kps). Individually, senior libero Shelley Walroth is first in digs per set (5.71) and second in digs (120)...senior middle blocker Nicki Kent is first in blocks per set (1.33) and seventh in hitting percentage (.304)...sophomore setter Ashley August is third in aces per set (0.43) and eighth in assists per set (.5.43)...junior middle blocker Brittany Lehman is fourth in aces per set (0.43) and 10th in hitting percentage (.272)...junior outside hitter Aidan Yeager is seventh in kills per set (3.0).

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 A-Sun 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. This year is following the same tune as the Dolphins lead the A-Sun in opponent hitting percentage, blocks and digs.