Volleyball hosts two A-Sun matches this weekend

Sept. 27, 2007


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After going 2-1 in its most recent road trip, the JU volleyball team (7-9, 1-1) will continue Atlantic Sun Conference play this weekend at the friendly confines of Swisher Gymnasium.

The Dolphins begin the week against Mercer (3-12, 1-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. JU will complete the weekend against Kennesaw State (2-15, 0-1) on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Block party continues
The Dolphin's first line of defense is setting the standard for the A-Sun and no one else is even close.

JU leads the conference with 2.89 blocks per game, which also ranks them 34th in the nation. The next team in the conference standings, Florida Gulf Coast, checks in with an average of 2.09 blocks per game.

A big jump in the rankings came at the hands of New Orleans as JU's 23 blocks against the Privateers tied a program record which was set by the squad last season at East Tennessee State (Oct. 5).

The Dolphins followed up that effort with 20 blocks at ETSU (Sept. 21), their eighth double figure team effort of the season.

Nation wide Merchant
Senior middle blocker Melissa Merchant is a national stock option these days when it comes to playing defense at the net.

The Oakley, Calif. native recently checked in at 12th place in the national rankings with an average of 1.63 blocks per game. That same average is also good for first place in the A-Sun.

Merchant also reestablished herself in the JU record book by claiming the match high block record with 15 at ETSU on Sept. 21. Her performance could be construed as a direct response to freshman middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher's 14 block effort in the previous match against New Orleans, which beat the previous mark of 13 by Merchant at ETSU in 2006.

Against ETSU, she set a program record with 15 blocks, 11 kills and a .318 (11-4-22) hitting percentage in a 3-2 loss to the Bucs. Against USC Upstate, Merchant had seven kills, four blocks and a .417 (7-2-12) in a 3-0 win over the Spartans. She finished her weekend with 12 kills, five blocks and a .458 (12-1-24) hitting percentage in a 3-1 win over UNC Asheville. Merchant currently leads the conference with 2.18 blocks per game and is also ninth with a .284 hitting percentage.

Sister act
Sophomore libero Michelle Walroth is the single-season digs leader at JU and leads the A-Sun with an average of 5.81 digs per game.

She has also finished with 30 digs on four occasions this season, including a season-high 32 against Butler and No. 23 Dayton.

Not only that, but Walroth joins fellow teammate Mellisa Merchant in the national rankings as she sits in the 16th spot in digs per game. Even more interesting, she has more company in the national rankings and has competition in the family.

Her sister, Julie, a senior libero at Evansville, and is currently ranked ninth in the nation with an average of 6.09 digs per game.

The Dolphins have won four of their last six matches. Against UNC Asheville, the Dolphins had three players record double-doubles for the third time this season (No. 23 Dayton, New Orleans). Freshman setter Hannah Munneke racked up a season-high 68 assists, she is currently fourth in the conference with 11.27 apg. Junior outside hitter Sara Bendorf finished with a career-high 21 digs.

ASun.TV now available
The JU Dolphins made their debut on ASun.TV against No. 8 Washington on Sept. 14 and four more matches remain. To sign up to view any of the contests, or any other packages offered, log onto

ASun.TV events will be available for viewing both live and via on-demand replay to fans throughout the country that purchase a Single Event Pass ($5.99 per event), a monthly All-Event Pass ($9.99 per month), or an annual All-Event pass ($69.99 per year). Both the annual and monthly All- Event Passes allow unlimited access to games within their respective timeframes.

Among the remaining matches on the 2007 schedule are Campbell (Oct. 5), Belmont (Oct. 12), UNF (Oct. 26/Nov. 8) and Savannah State (11/1). The Shaun Kupferberg Show will also be available every Tuesday as a special feature and can either be purchased individually or can be seen free after choosing the annual All-Event pass.