Another season looms on the horizon as the JU volleyball team opens the 2010 campaign this weekend at the Big Orange Bash in Clemson, S.C.
The Dolphins, who were selected fourth in the A-Sun preseason poll, will open the year on Friday at 7 p.m. in Jervey Gym against host Clemson. JU will end the weekend on Saturday against Albany (10 a.m.) and Tennessee Tech (4 p.m.).
Clemson finished the 2009 season with a 23-10 record en route to a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Albany ended last year with a 22-9 mark before falling in the championship match of the America East Tournament.
Tennessee Tech is trying to bounce back from a 10-18 record in 2009 but is one season removed from its 2008 Ohio Valley championship season.
Limited video coverage can be viewed during the Clemson match on Friday night while each contest can be viewed through LiveStats by going to JUDolphins.com.
Head coach Shaun Kupferberg
Shaun Kupferberg enters his fifth season at the helm of the Dolphin volleyball program.
Last year, he led the program to a second-place finish in the A-Sun standings and the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament for the first time since 2005. He also led the program to its most consecutive winnings seasons (four) since Mike Lopriore accomplished the feat from 1986-89.
In year three, 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.
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. In his third season, the Dolphins set the standard by ranking first in blocks and opponent hitting percentage and second in digs.
Last year followed the same tune as the Dolphins ranked second in the A-Sun in opponent hitting percentage and digs while finishing third in blocks.
JU picked fourth in A-Sun preseason poll
The JU volleyball team has been picked to finish fourth in the 2010 A-Sun Preseason Coaches Poll.
Regular season and tournament champion Lipscomb was tabbed the preseason favorite with 120 points (10 first-place votes) while FGCU and Belmont rounded out the top three. JU (one first place vote), Kennesaw State, Campbell, ETSU, Mercer, UNF, USC Upstate and Stetson rounded out the rest of the field, respectfully.
Two new coaches
Leading the list of new faces on the 2010 sidelines will be assistant coaches Chuck Crawford and Christina Diaz.
Crawford joins the staff after one year at Georgia Tech as a volunteer assistant. Crawford helped the Yellow Jackets to a third place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and the program’s first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2004.
Diaz makes her way to the First Coast after a one-year stint as an assistant coach at Radford. Diaz helped the Highlanders tallied double-digit wins (12) for the first time since 2001 en route to earning a bid to the Big South Conference Tournament.
In her collegiate career, Diaz was a four-year letterwinner and defensive specialist at Florida from 2005-08 under head coach Mary Wise.
A whole lotta new faces
Nearly half of the 2010 roster will comprise of true freshmen as seven new faces make their way to the First Coast.
Outside hitters Niathia Cullen (Chana, Ill.), Jenell Larsen (Waupun, Wis.) and Taylor Nyquist (Colleyville, Texas) will join outside hitter/middle blocker Nadia Booker (Lakewood, Wash.), Alyssa Robertson (Pompano Beach, Fla.). Other new faces will be middle blocker Kylie Jacob (Fayetteville, Ga.) and setter Kendall Courtney (Houston, Texas).