Volleyball falls to UCF, 3-2, to open Holiday Inn Tourney
Junior libero Shelley Walroth
Junior libero Shelley Walroth
Senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf finished with 21 kills and 10 digs while sophomore middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher tallied 14 kills and a match-high eight blocks to spark a late rally but the JU volleyball team fell to UCF, 3-2 (15-25, 23-25, 25-13, 29-17, 7-15), Friday evening in the opening match of the Holiday Inn Invitational at Hanner Fieldhouse. Trailing two sets, JU (0-1) hit a match-high .379 in set three and won by a 29-27 margin in the fourth set to force a finale. The Dolphins could not overcome a -.053 hitting percentage (3-4-19) in the final frame, however, as the Knights (1-0) rallied with a team-high .333 tally (8-2-18) to secure the win.

“We started out really slow and started to pick things up but we dug ourselves too big of a hole in the final game,” said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. “Overall, I’m really happy with the start of the season after facing a good UCF team. Our serve/receive and defense were good but we just have to start clicking on offense and that will come.”

Bendorf hit .190 (21-10-58) from the floor while Gruenbacher notched a team-high .276 (14-6-29) to lead the Dolphin offense with double-figure kills. Sophomore setter Hannah Munneke dished out a match-high 49 assists to go with six digs and three blocks while junior outside hitter Brooke Singleton added 11 digs in her Dolphin debut. Junior libero Shelley Walroth set the tone defensively with a match-high 33 digs. Erin Campbell led the Knights with a match-high 22 kills while hitting .224 (22-9-58) from the floor and notching 13 digs. Janine Williams (14 kills, 11 digs) and Andrea Youngblood (35 assists, 12 digs) also tallied double-doubles while Kristin Petrasic notched 31 digs.

In game one, JU took an early 8-4 lead on an attack error by Stephanie Serna but the Knights used a 5-0 run to take a 9-8 advantage on an attack error by the Dolphins. UCF increased the margin to 14-10 on another attack error by JU before increasing its lead to 19-11 with a kill by Campbell. JU would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way as the Knights took a 1-0 lead in the match.

In the second frame, the Dolphins held an early 10-7 lead after a service error by Williams but UCF answered with a 7-3 run to take a 14-13 advantage on an attack error by JU. After six ties, the Dolphins took a 22-21 lead with a kill by Gruenbacher but the Knights answered with a 4-1 run to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

In set three, JU jumped out to a 10-3 lead after an attack error by Williams and then increased its lead to 13-5 with a kill by freshman outside hitter Kathryn Kane. The Dolphins made it 20-10 after an attack error by Serna and would not allow the deficit to go lower than eight points to cut the lead to 2-1.

In the fourth set, the teams went through five ties early on before UCF opened a 12-8 advantage on a kill by Campbell. JU would rally to tie the contest six more times before the Knights took a 22-19 lead on an attack error by the Dolphins. JU rallied again, this time using a 6-2 run, to take a 25-24 lead on another attack error by Serna. UCF used a pair of Williams kills to retake the lead, 26-25, but the Dolphins tied the set two more times before getting a pair of kills by Bendorf to even the match.

In the final frame, UCF opened the set with 5-0 lead on three consecutive kills by Williams. The Dolphins cut the deficit to 6-3 after an attack error by Campbell but the Knights answered with a 4-1 run to open a 10-4 advantage. JU cut the margin to 10-6 on an ace by Bendorf but UCF finished the set with a 5-1 run to take the match.

The Dolphins will continue play in the Holiday Inn Tournament tomorrow against Presbyterian at 10 a.m. before closing out the weekend later that night against host Georgia Southern at 7 p.m.