Volleyball drops 3-1 contest to UNF in first battle of SunTrust River City Rumble
Junior libero Shelley Walroth
Junior libero Shelley Walroth
Despite an early lead in the match, the Dolphins could not find the rhythm to put things away as the JU volleyball team fell to cross-town rival North Florida, 3-1 (25-18, 18-25, 21-25, 23-25), in the first installment of the SunTrust River City Rumble Tuesday night at UNF Arena.

JU (2-4, 0-1) took an early 1-0 lead after hitting a match-high .182 (11-5-33) but finished .092 (40-27-142) in the contest and committed 18 errors (10 service, seven receive, one ball handling). UNF (3-3, 1-0) hit over .250 in sets two and four, put together a well placed run in set three and finished with a match-high eight blocks to counter a match-high 21 errors (10 service, seven receive, four ball handling).

“We have to be a balanced offensive if we want to be effective and that didn’t happen tonight,” said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. “We have two more days before we face another conference opponent and we have a lot of work to do.”

Sophomore middle hitter Abby Gruenbacher led the Dolphins with 12 kills, a .375 (12-3-24) hitting percentage and three blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Aidan Yeager added seven kills while senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf chipped in with seven kills and nine digs. Junior libero Shelley Walroth got herself back into form by tallying a match-high 30 digs.

Kaley Read led the Lady Ospreys with a match-high 16 kills and five blocks. Agata Dawidowicz added 11 kills, seven digs, four aces and three blocks. Bary Rasmussen also chipped in with 11 kills while Madie Belvin tallied 39 assists and 18 digs for the lone double-double of the evening. In the first set, both team battled through three ties until JU used a 6-0 run to take a 14-8 lead on a ball handling error by Maddie Belvin. The Dolphins increased the lead to 16-9 on an ace by sophomore setter Hannah Munneke but the Lady Ospreys cut the deficit to 19-16 with a kill by Rasmussen. The Dolphins answered with a 6-2 to end the set and take a 1-0 lead in the match.

In the second frame, UNF jumped out to an early 6-1 after four consecutive aces by Dawidowicz before the Lady Ospreys increased the margin to 9-3 on a kill by Marshay Greenlee. UNF increased the lead to 11-4 on an ace by Danielle Lerch and then pushed the margin to 14-6 after an attack error by the Dolphins. JU cut the deficit to 19-13 after a service error by Read but the Lady Ospreys pushed the lead to 23-15 on a kill by Read. UNF would even the match, 1-1, after two unforced errors by the Dolphins.

In the third set, both teams battled back-and-forth through 12 ties until UNF used a 3-0 run, capped by an attack error by the Dolphins, to open up a 20-17 advantage. The Lady Ospreys increased the margin to 22-18 on an attack error by the Dolphins and took a 2-1 lead in the match when Read dropped a kill past the Dolphin defense.

In the fourth set, both team battled through an early tie before JU used a 2-0 run to take a 3-1 lead on a ball handling error by Greenlee. The Dolphins increased the margin to 5-2 on an attack error by Read and then made it 7-3 on an ace by sophomore defensive specialist Brittany Turnbull. UNF cut the deficit to 13-11 on a kill by Rasmussen before evening the set, 16-16, on a kill by Dawidowicz. UNF took its first lead of the match, 18-17, on a kill by Dawidowicz and then got a block assist by Dawidowicz and Danielle Lerch to make it 19-17. JU answered with a 2-0 run to even the contest (19-19) and both teams battled through four more ties until a 2-0 run by the Lady Ospreys sealed the match.

JU returns to action with its home opener on Friday at 7 p.m. against A-Sun rival Mercer at Swisher Gymnasium. The contest will be the first match to be shown live on ASuntv.org.