Volleyball defeats Radford, 3-0, to open Black & Gold Challenge

Sept. 7, 2007

Box Score

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Senior middle blocker Melissa Merchant finished with a match-high 11 kills and five blocks to lead the JU volleyball team over Radford, 3-0 (30-14, 30-28, 30-21), Friday afternoon in the first day of the Black and Gold Challenge at Reynolds Gymnasium.

JU (3-5) earned its third 3-0 win of the season after hitting .228 from the floor. Radford (2-7) finished the contest hitting .057 with 27 errors, including a negative effort (8-11-38) in the opening game.

"We are playing much better as a team but we still need to improve our focus throughout a match," said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. "We had too many big slumps, and gave up some points, but we are improving and we expect it to continue throughout the weekend."

Merchant, who also finished with a match-high .400 hitting percentage (11-3-20), tied her season high for kills and recorded her fourth double digit kill effort. Freshman setter Hannah Munneke tallied 32 assists and nine digs while sophomore libero Michelle Walroth (20 digs) and junior outside hitter Sara Bendorf (14 digs) each directed the defensive effort for the Dolphins.

Lauren Clay led Radford with nine kills and 16 digs while Josie Hanners handed out 20 assists in the contest for the Highlanders. In game one, JU jumped out to an early 5-2 lead on a kill by Bendorf and then increased the margin to 10-6 after a kill by Merchant. The Dolphins continued to cruise to a 21-11 lead after an ace by Munneke before ending the game on a 9-3 run.

In the second frame, both teams battled each other to the bitter end as the squads went through 12 lead changes and 17 ties. Neither team held an advantage of more than three points (JU, 7-4) and no team led by more than two points after a 16-16 tie. Trailing 28-27, the Dolphins ended the game on a 3-0 run after a pair of errors by Lauren Halbert (ball handling & attacking) and a kill by freshman outside hitter Brittany Lehman.

In the final game, Radford took a commanding 9-2 lead before JU answered with a 4-0 run to cut the advantage to 9-6. The Dolphins rallied back to tie the contest, 16-16, after a kill by freshman outside hitter Aidan Yeager and took its first lead of the game, 18-17, after an attack error by Lindsay Rupert. JU pushed the advantage to 24-21 on a kill by Bendorf and then finished the frame on a 7-0 run to seal the contest.

The Dolphins will continue play in the Black & Gold Challenge against No. 23 Dayton at 10 a.m. The contest can be followed through GameTracker on