Volleyball ready for two in Georgia

After pushing its winning streak to five matches, the JU volleyball team (8-5, 4-2) will take its show on the road beginning with Mercer (3-10, 1-5) at the University Centeron Friday at 7 p.m. The Dolphins will complete the road trip through Georgia against Kennesaw State (7-6, 2-4) at the KSU Convocation Center on Saturday at 3 p.m. Last season, the Dolphins and Bears protected their home court as the programs split in the season series for the first time since 2004. Against the Owls, JU won the season series (2-0) and holds a 4-0 advantage in the all-time series since KSU joined the A-Sun in 2006. Both matches can be viewed on ASun.TV by logging onto 

Dolphin notables
After being shutout in straight sets against Belmont and Lipscomb, JU has won five straight matches. JU’s longest winning streak under Shaun Kupferberg is seven (2007)....the Dolphins have hit above .300 in three straight matches for only the second time since joining the A-Sun in 1998 (2006). The Dolphins have not hit above .300 in four straight matches since joining the A-Sun...with its win over FGCU, the Dolphins earned their first win on a Friday after going 0-4 to start the season. JU also won its second consecutive match over the Eagles after dropping the first four meetings...junior outside hitter Aidan Yeager tallied a career-best 21 kills while hitting .349 (21-6-43) against FGCU...junior outside hitter Brittany Lehman also tied a career high with 16 killls against the Eagles.

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 17 at Belmont, she surpassed 2,000 in her career and 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 already holds the family single-season record, and surpassed her elder sibling with 12 digs against Stetson, to become the undisputed head of the family. In the NCAA career standings, Walroth needs 100 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 5.23 digs per set. She has also found her way into the national rankings by sitting 19th with her digs per set average.

Brooke’s “E”-normous weekend
Senior outside hitter Brooke Singleton, or Brook with an “E,” had a career weekend to help push the Dolphins' match winning streak to five with wins over FGCU and Stetson. In an epic five set victory over the Eagles, she finished with 14 kills and a career-high 18 digs to notch her third career double-double. In a sweep over Stetson, Singleton kept things rolling with a career-high 17 kills and nine digs while also hitting .375 (17-5-32) in the contest. For the week, Singleton led the squad with 31 kills, a 3.88 kills per set average and three aces while ranking second with 27 digs and a 3.38 digs per set average and hitting .333. She currently leads the Dolphins with 118 kills and is second with 2.68 kills per set, 14 service aces and 2.75 digs per set.

Dolphins in the A-Sun rankings
In the team rankings, JU is first in opponent hitting percentage (.145)...third in digs (16.05 dps), service aces (1.55 aps)....fourth in hitting percentage (.208)...fifth in blocks (1.84 bps). Individually, senior libero Shelley Walroth is first in digs per set (5.23) and second in digs (230)...senior middle blocker Nicki Kent is first in blocks per set (1.22) and fourth in hitting percentage (.327)....junior middle blocker Brittany Lehman is tied for fifth in aces per set (0.36)...junior setter Hannah Munneke is seventh in assists per set (6.12)...junior outside hitter Aidan Yeager is eighth in kills per set (3.10).

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 while ranking third in digs and fifth in blocks.

No “Clark” in this Kent
Senior middle hitter Nicki Kent is coming into her own in 2009 after being in the shadows of former teammates Melissa Merchant and Abby Gruenbacher. Since her arrival as a transfer from Wyoming in 2007, Kent has mainly been used off the bench or as a serving specialist as she tried to find her niche. Now in her final season with the program, she is the main presence at the net for the Dolphins and the numbers are beginning to reflect it. Kent currently leads the A-Sun in blocks with 1.22 blocks per set and also ranks fourth in the conference with a .327 hitting percentage.