SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2007
Volleyball's season ends with 3-0 loss to Lipscomb in A-Sun Tourney Final

Nov. 17, 2007

Box Score

MACON, Ga. - GALLERY

The Dolphins bid for their second Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament title and NCAA Tournament bid fell short as the JU volleyball team could not overcome a sluggish start as the squad ended its 2007 season with a loss to Lipscomb, 3-0 (20-30, 29-31, 15-30), in the A-Sun Tournament final on Saturday afternoon at the University Center.

JU (19-13, 8-3) hit -0.02 (26-29-106) as a team and were out blocked for only the third time this season (8-5). Lipscomb (20-11, 7-4) hit .274 (51-20-113) to earn its first tournament title and automatic bid to the NCAA's.

"Lipscomb came on strong in the final weeks of the season and they proved they are the best team in the conference," said Kupferberg. "We are disappointed because it wasn't our best match but you have to learn these things with such a young squad. I'm proud of how we played this year but at the same time I'm sad to see our seniors leave."

Junior outside hitter Sara Bendorf, who was named to the all-tournament team, led the Dolphins with nine kills while racking up eight digs. Freshman setter Hannah Munneke dished out 23 assists to go with eight digs and two aces. Sophomore libero Michelle Walroth, who was also named to the all-tournament team, led the defense with nine digs. Freshman middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher had a team-high three blocks.

Sarah Snider led the Lady Bisons with a match-high 17 kills while also finishing with eight digs. Alex Scruggs tallied 11 kills to round out Lipscomb's offense while Anne Mullins led the defense with a match-high 13 digs. Stefine Pease dished out a match-high 39 assists.

In game one, Lipscomb jumped out to an early 6-1 lead, which was fueled by three Pease aces. JU bounced back to tie the contest, 11-11, on a bad set by Pease but the Bisons used a 9-2 run to make it 20-13 on a block by Alex Kelly and Katie Bradley. LU increased the margin to 25-16 on a kill by Snider and then took game one, 30-20, on a kill by Scruggs.

In the second frame, the two teams battled through 15 ties and seven lead changes with JU taking an early 4-1 lead on a kill by senior middle blocker Melissa Merchant. The Bisons evened the contest, 6-6, before taking a 9-6 lead on an attack error by the Dolphins. JU tied the contest, 10-10, on an ace by senior defensive specialist Katie O'Brien before the Dolphins took a 16-13 lead on a kill by freshman outside hitter Brittany Lehman. LU bounced back to tie the contest, 17-17, on a service error by the Dolphins and neither team would lead by more than one point until an attack error by Scruggs gave JU a 25-23 lead. The Dolphins pushed the lead to 28-25 after an attack error by Snider but the Bisons used a 3-0 run to even the game, 28-28, on an attack error by the Dolphins. Both teams traded a point until Lipscomb got a kill by Snider and an attack error by the Dolphins to take a 2-0 lead.

In the final game, Lipscomb took a commanding 8-1 lead out the gate and then increased the margin to 11-3 on a block by Kelly and Pease. The Bisons made it 18-8 on an attack error by the Dolphins before increasing the margin to 23-11 on a solo block by Scruggs. Lipscomb would go on to outscore JU, 7-4, to close out the game and win the match.

JU, which earned back to back trips to the A-Sun finals under Kupferberg, finished the 2007 season with the most wins (19) since 1997 and tied for the most conference wins (8). The Dolphins finished with a seven-match winning streak, the most under Kupferberg, and set a match record with 19 service aces in a three-game match (Savannah State - 11/1) and tied a program record with 23 blocks (New Orleans - 9/15).

Individually, Merchant (first team) and Bendorf (second team) became the first JU duo to earn all-conference team honors since Radka Dimitrova (first) and Brooke Ahrens (second) in 2002. Including the three all-freshman selections of Munneke, Gruenbacher and outside hitter Aidan Yeager, it was the most all-conference selections for JU since joining the A-Sun in 1998.

Merchant, who set a JU match record with 15 blocks, finished the regular season ranked 12th in the nation in blocks per game and set a conference single-season record with 175 blocks. Munneke set the new single-season assists record (1,356) to surpass Erin Donivan (1,244 - 2005). Walroth, who set a four-game match record with 35 digs against ETSU (11/16), broke her own single-season dig record with 672.

Along with Merchant and O'Brien, senior outside hitter Katie Hendrian also played in her final match as a Dolphin.