Volleyball hosts North Florida on Friday at 7 p.m.

Oct. 25, 2007


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After going 2-1 in three days on the road, the JU volleyball team (14-11, 7-2) will host one conference match at Swisher Gymnasium but the implications are bigger than any match all season.

The Dolphins will host cross-town rival North Florida (4-20, 1-8) on Friday at 7 p.m. for a point in the SunTrust River City Rumble standings.

The contest also has ramifications in the A- Sun standings as JU is currently second with a big match remaining against first-place Florida Gulf Coast next week.

JU's match against UNF is available through ASun.TV on

A-Sun Championship taking shape
With two weeks left in the regular season, four teams have earned a spot in the A-Sun Championship in Macon, Ga., with two slots remaining.

JU (7-2), Belmont (7-2), East Tennessee State (6-2), Lipscomb (6-3) are in but will jockey for final seeding with two matches remaining. Florida Gulf Coast (7-1) is not eligible for postseason play due to its jump to Division I.

Mercer (5-2) and Gardner-Webb (4-4) are in position to take the final two spots but Stetson (2-6) still has life.

The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will earn a bye in the first round of the tournament and will need to win only two matches to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Merchant madness
Senior middle blocker Melissa Merchant is one of the hottest tickets on the national market these days when it comes to playing defense at the net.

The Oakley, Calif. native is fifth in the national rankings with an average of 1.66 blocks per game. In total blocks, she is second nationally with 144, seven behind Lecia Brown of Louisville.

In a different perspective of her dominance in the A-Sun, she is the only player to surpass the 100 block plateau and is 50 ahead of Campbell's Femi Alabi (94).

Merchant also re-established herself in the JU record book by claiming the match high block record with 15 at ETSU on Sept. 21.

In the career record book, she is second with 251 block assists and fifth with 285 total blocks. In comparison, Merchant has yet to complete her second season with the program and each other player has tallied at least three seasons worth of stats.

Digging deep
Sophomore libero Michelle Walroth is the single-season digs leader at JU and is second in the A-Sun with an average of 5.89 digs per game.

She has also finished with 30 digs on four occasions this season, including a season-high 32 twice, and is on pace to break her own single season record.

Not only that, but Walroth joins fellow teammate Mellisa Merchant in the national rankings as she stayed pat in the 15th spot. Her sister, Julie, is a senior libero at Evansville and is currently ranked fifth in the nation with an average of 6.49 digs per game. 

Walroth is also on pace to destroy the Dolphin record books as she sits third in career digs (1,107) which is 35 behind Kelly Hickham (1,142) and 217 behind Julie Heipp (1,324).

Former Dolphin making news
Former Dolphin Tara Kuk (formerly Tara Burton) was nominated for AVP "Rookie of the Year" honors on Oct. 13. Kuk, who is a rising star on the Pro Beach circuit, was an outside hitter with the Dolphins from 1997-98 and earned Trans Atlantic Conference "Player of the Year" honors in 1998. She was also invited to try out for the U.S. National Team in 2000.

A-Sun statistics
Individually, sophomore setter Hannah Munneke is fourth in assists per game (11.77), senior middle blocker Melissa Merchant is seven in hitting percentage (.317), junior outside hitter Sara Bendorf is seventh in service aces per game (0.44) and eight in kills per game (3.38). As a team, JU is third in hitting percentage (.214) and opponent hitting percentage (.167), fifth in service aces per game (1.84) and digs per game (16.92).