Volleyball rallies for 3-2 win over FGCU to take sole possession of second place
Senior libero Shelley Walroth
Senior libero Shelley Walroth
The “Cardiac Kids” took things to the next level as the Dolphins rallied from an 0-2 deficit by winning three consecutive sets as the JU volleyball team shocked Florida Gulf Coast, 3-2 (23-25, 24-26, 25-11, 25-21, 15-9), Saturday afternoon at Alico Arena.

JU (15-5, 11-2), which now holds its longest winning streak under head coach Shaun Kupferberg (12), broke its longest winning streak since joining the A-Sun in 1998 (11, 2003). The Dolphins also pushed its record to 3-0 in five-set matches after going 0-5 last season.

FGCU (11-8, 10-3), which hit a match-low .074 in the contest, dropped its second 3-2 match to JU this season and has now lost three consecutive matches to the Dolphins.

“This team has shown the ability to overcome adversity this season but this was an incredible effort today,” said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. “Florida Gulf Coast is a tremendous team and they gutted out the first two sets to get an early advantage. I was really proud of the way we didn’t give up and came right back at them. Hopefully, we can continue to carry this confidence as we head into the final portion of our schedule.”

Walroth, who moved into the top 20 on the NCAA all-time digs list, set a program record for digs with 46 to surpass Cheryl Rothwell’s 43 at Stetson on Nov. 12, 1996.

Senior outside hitter Brooke Singleton had a career day by tallying a match-high 25 kills to go with 16 digs, a .311 (25-6-61) hitting percentage and three blocks. Junior setter Hannah Munneke paced the offense with 58 assists and 10 digs while sophomore outside hitter Kathryn Kane notched a double-double with 15 kills and 16 digs while hitting .302 (15-2-43). Junior middle hitter Brittany Lehman (11 kills) and junior outside hitter Aidan Yeager (12 kills) also contributed to the offense while senior middle blocker Nicki Kent (five blocks) and sophomore defensive specialist Ashley August (11 digs) contributed to the defense.

The Dolphins were without freshman middle blocker Alison Loeppky due to a finger injury.

Jacqueline Cowden led the Eagles with 12 kills and four blocks while Chandra Lefever added 39 assists and 16 digs. Emma Racila (10 kills) and Jelena Simic (10 kills, 22 digs) also contributed to the offense. Anna Wagner (11 digs), Lara Metz (16 digs) and Holly Youngquist (19 digs) also added to the defense.

In the first set, JU jumped out to an early 5-2 lead on a kill by Lehman but the Eagles answered back with a 3-0 run to even the contest (5-5). JU would take a 9-7 lead on a kill by Lehman but FGCU pulled even again (9-9) after an attack error by the Dolphins. Both teams would battle through 11 more ties until the Eagles used a 3-0 run, capped by a kill by Simic, to take a 24-21 advantage. After an attack error by Cowden made it 24-22, the Eagles took a1-0 lead after service error by the Dolphins.

In the second frame, both teams went through 14 ties in the set and neither squad holding larger than a three point advantage (JU, 19-16) until FGCU used a 2-0 run to make it 26-24 and take a 2-0 lead going into the break.

In the third set, both teams went through three ties until JU used a 2-0 run to take a 5-3 advantage ona kill by Lehman. After a service error by the Dolphins, JU used a 3-0 run to increase the lead to 8-4 with an ace by Kane. After a ball handling error by the Dolphins, JU used a 6-0 run to push the lead to 14-5 with a kill by Singleton. Both teams would trade points until JU used a 5-0 run, capped by a kill by Kane, to make it 20-7. Both teams would trade points the remainder of the way until a kill by Singleton cut the deficit to 2-1.

In the fourth frame, both teams went through five ties until FGCU used a 4-1 run to open up a 13-10 advantage on a block by Racila. JU would answer with a 6-0 run, capped by a kill by Yeager, to take a 16-13 lead. The Eagles would battle back to tie the contest, 19-19, on a kill by Cowden but the Dolphins answered with a 2-0 run to make it 21-19 on a kill by Munneke. FGCU cut the deficit to 22-21 with a kill by Wagner but JU ended the set with a 3-0 run, fueled by consecutive attack errors by the Eagles, to even the match (2-2).

In the deciding game, both teams went through seven ties with neither team holding an advantage larger than two points (JU, 5-3) until the Dolphins ended the set with a 6-0 run, which included three kills by Singleton, to take the match.

JU will return action on Saturday at 3 p.m. as the Dolphins travel to USC Upstate.