Volleyball opens fall practice on Saturday
Head coach Shaun Kupferberg
Head coach Shaun Kupferberg
Newly renovated Swisher Gymnasium will get its first official test on Saturday as the JU volleyball team opens preseason camp under the direction of third-year head coach Shaun Kupferberg.

In just his second season with the program, Kupferberg led JU to its most wins (19) since 1997 and tied for the most conference wins (8) in program history. The back-to-back appearances in the conference tournament final were also the first time a Dolphin squad had accomplished the feat since JU began conference play in 1983.

Along with seven returnees, Kupferberg promoted Kelly Hopkins to head assistant while adding former Washington Huskies’ setter Alison Simmons to his staff. Simmons was a player under both Kupferberg and Hopkins at Northwest University from 2004-05.

“We’re really excited to have the team back together again after the long summer,” Kupferberg said. “We have a lot of talent coming back and that has given us some high expectations for this season.”

Making up the talented returnees for the Dolphins will be four A-Sun all-conference selections - senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf (second team), sophomore setter Hannah Munneke (freshman team), sophomore outside hitter Aidan Yeager (freshman team) and sophomore middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher (freshman team) - and junior libero Shelley Walroth, who is on pace to wreck the JU record book. Junior middle blocker Nicki Kent and sophomore outside hitter Brittany Lehman also bring seasoned experience to the roster in 2008.

Among the new faces will be junior transfer Brooke Singleton (Illinois State) and sophomore transfer Brittany Turnbull (UCF) along with freshmen Kathryn Kane (Wheaton, Ill.) and Ashley August (Wauconda, Ill.).

“Our goals for the season are attainable, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work by everyone involved with our program,” Kupferberg said. “The good news is we’re ready to work.”

JU will open its 2008 season against UCF in the Georgia Southern Tournament on Friday, Aug. 29, at 5 p.m. in Statesboro, Ga.