Volleyball hosts final matches this week including showdown on Saturday

Oct. 31, 2007


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After defeating UNF for the first time since 2005, the JU volleyball team (15-11, 8-2) will host one non- conference match before an A-Sun showdown at Swisher Gymnasium.

The Dolphins will begin the week against Savannah State (4-21) on Thursday at 7 p.m. before hosting first-place Florida Gulf Coast (21-2, 9-1) on Saturday at 3 p.m.

With a win over the Eagles, JU will earn at least a share of the regular-season crown and one of the top two seeds in the conference tournament. The Dolphins have never won a regular season title as a member of the A-Sun.

JU's matches against Savannah State and FGCU are available through ASun.TV on

A-Sun Championship almost set
With two weeks left in the regular season, four teams have earned a spot in the A-Sun Championship in Macon, Ga., with one slot remaining.

JU (8-2), Belmont (7-2), East Tennessee State (7-2), Lipscomb (6-3) and Mercer (6-3) are in but will jockey for final seeding with one week remaining. Florida Gulf Coast (9-1) is not eligible for postseason play due to its jump to Division I.

Gardner-Webb (4-5) and Stetson (3-7) are in a battle for the final spot.

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.

Big up front
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 10th in the national rankings with an average of 1.60 blocks per game. In total blocks, she is fourth nationally with 147, 14 behind Queen Nzenwa of Kentucky.

In a different perspective of her dominance in the A-Sun, she is 40 blocks ahead of Campbell's Femi Alabi (107).

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 254 block assists and fifth with 288 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.

The back line of defense
Sophomore libero Michelle Walroth is the single-season digs leader at JU and is second in the A-Sun with an average of 5.88 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 checks in at 16th. Her sister, Julie, is a senior libero at Evansville and is currently ranked sixth in the nation with an average of 6.35 digs per game. 

Walroth is also on pace to destroy the Dolphin record books as she sits third in career digs (1,135) which is seven behind Kelly Hickham (1,142) and 189 behind Julie Heipp (1,324).

A-Sun statistics
Individually, freshman outside hitter Aidan Yeager is thrid in blocks per game (1.07) and freshman middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher is fourth (1.06 bpg), sophomore setter Hannah Munneke is fourth in assists per game (11.67), senior middle blocker Melissa Merchant is seventh in hitting percentage (.321), junior outside hitter Sara Bendorf is eighth in service aces per game (0.44) and ninth in kills per game (3.38). As a team, JU is third in hitting percentage (.216) and opponent hitting percentage (.168), fifth in service aces per game (1.81) and digs per game (16.92).

ASun.TV now available
The JU Dolphins made their debut on ASun.TV against No. 8 Washington on Sept. 14 and 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 Savannah State (11/1), Florida Gulf Coast (11/3) and UNF (11/ 8). The A-Sun Championship will also be available on ASun.TV.