FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2007
Volleyball moves on to A-Sun finals with 3-1 win over No. 2 ETSU

Nov. 16, 2007

Box Score GALLERY

MACON, Ga. - Junior outside hitter Sara Bendorf tallied a double-double while four Dolphins finished with double-digit kills to lead the JU volleyball team to a win over No. 2 East Tennessee State, 3-1 (30-25, 27-30, 34-32, 30-25), Friday evening in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at the University Center.

JU (19-12), which advances to the conference tournament finals for the second straight year under head coach Shaun Kupferberg, avenged an earlier loss to the Bucs, 3-2, on Sept. 21 in Johnson City, Tenn. The Dolphins will be in search of their second A-Sun Tournament title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament since accomplishing the feat for the first time in the Division I level in 2004.

ETSU (19-13) finished with match highs in kills (69), assists (66) and digs (74) but also racked up a match-high 13 receiving errors and hit only .119 (15-10-42) in game four.

JU, who defeated the Bucs in last year's semifinal, will face the winner of No. 1 Belmont/No. 4 Lipscomb on Saturday at 1 p.m.

"We are very excited about the opportunity to play for another championship," said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. "We know these opportunities don't come along very often so we are going to make sure we don't miss this chance. Everyone played well for us tonight and Michelle Walroth has been amazing for us in the back row."

Bendorf tied a match-high with 21 kills while racking up 10 digs and four aces. Junior outside hitter Kesley Clark tied a season-high with 14 kills while freshman middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher added 14 kills and a match-high .500 (14-2-24) hitting percentage. Freshman outside hitter Aidan Yeager rounded out the Dolphins in double figures with 12 kills while also helping the defense with five blocks.

Senior middle blocker Melissa Merchant had a match-high six blocks to go with six kills while sophomore libero Michelle Walroth led the defense with 25 digs. Freshman setter Hannah Munneke, who tallied 60 assists, surpassed Erin Donivan (1,244 - 2005) as the single-season record holder with 1,333.

Desiree Dyck led the Bucs with 21 kills and a .386 (21-4-44) hitting percentage while Laura Waddell added 17 kills. Callie Kiselich rounded out the offense for ETSU with 11 kills and Amanda Youell notched a double-double with 59 assists and 10 digs. Kaena Apana led all players with a match-high 29 digs.

In game one, ETSU jumped out to an early 6-2 lead after an attack error by the Dolphins but JU answered with a 4-0 run to even the contest with a kill by Gruenbacher. Both teams stayed even until the Bucs took a 12-10 lead on a set error by the Dolphins. JU took its first lead, 15-14 after a kill by Yeager before increasing the margin to 20-17 on a block by Merchant and Munneke. Both teams traded points until JU took a 26-23 lead after an ace by senior outside hitter Katie Hendrian. The Dolphins would take a 1-0 lead in the match after finishing the game on a 4-2 run.

In the second frame, both teams played evenly in the early goings until ETSU took a 9-6 lead on a kill by Dyck. The Bucs increased the margin to 16-11 after an attack error by the Dolphins and increased the margin to 22-17 after an attack error by JU. The Dolphins cut the margin to 24-21 after a kill by Yeager and then made it a 26-24 deficit after a kill by Clark. JU would pull to within one point, 28-27, after an attack error by Baufield but ETSU would event the match, 1-1, by finishing with a 2-0 run.

In the third game, the Bucs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after a kill by Dyck before increasing the lead to 7-3 with a kill by Baufield. JU used a 6-2 run to even the contest with a kill by Clark and then took a 10-9 lead with a kill by Bendorf. The Dolphins increased the lead to 14-11 on a kill by Merchant and then made it a 17-13 contest after an ace by Bendorf. After ETSU cut the deficit to 17-16, JU answered with a 3-0 run to make it a 20-16 contest with a kill by Yeager. Each team continued to trade points until a kill by Clark put the Dolphins ahead, 28-23, on a kill by Clark. ETSU would answer with a 5-0 run to even the contest at 28-28 and both team would battle back and forth until a block by Bendorf and Merchant gave JU a 2-1 advantage with a 34-32 win.

JU jumped out to an early 4-1 lead after an attack error by the Bucs and then increased the margin to 10-3 on an ace by senior outside hitter Katie Hendrian. ETSU used a 10-3 run to even the contest, 13-13, but JU answered with a 3-1 run to take a 16-14 advantage with a kill by Gruenbacher. ETSU bounced back with a 4-0 run to take an 18-16 lead on an ace by Britney Loomis but JU answered with a 3-0 run to lead 19-18 on an attack error by the Bucs. JU increased the lead to 23-19 on an ace by freshman outside hitter Brittany Lehman and then made it 25-20 on an ace by senior defensive specialist Katie O'Brien. ETSU cut the margin to 26-24 but the Dolphins answered with a 2-0 run to make it 28-24 after an attack error by the Bucs. JU would seal the match with a block by Yeager and Gruenbacher.

JU will next compete in the finals on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the University Arena. All tournament matches can be seen live on www.judolphins.com as part of ASun.TV.