Volleyball downs Mercer, 3-0, to open three-match homestand
Junior outside hitter Brooke Singleton
Junior outside hitter Brooke Singleton
The Dolphin offense got back on track to open the weekend as sophomore middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher tallied a match-high 11 kills, a .530 hitting percentage and four blocks to lead the JU volleyball team to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 25-13) win over Mercer, Friday evening in Atlantic Sun Conference action at Swisher Gymnasium.

JU (3-4, 1-1), which snapped a three-match losing streak, hit a match-high .280 (43-14-101) while also tallying eight team blocks. Mercer (5-4, 1-1) hit only .020 (23-21-97) in the match and had its four-match winning streak come to an end.

“We played well tonight in front of a great crowd and I hope we see them back this weekend,” said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. “It was nice to see our offense get back on track and our defense stepped up for us. But unless we start doing this on a consistent basis, there is nothing to really celebrate about.”

Along with Gruenbacher, senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf finished with 10 kills, a .300 (10-2-26) hitting percentage and four blocks. Junior libero Shelley Walroth led the Dolphin defense with 20 digs while freshman setter Ashley August had 19 assists, seven digs and two aces in her first collegiate start. Junior outside hitter Brooke Singleton chipped in with six kills, seven digs and a .350 (6-0-17) hitting percentage.

Libby Hansch tallied a team-high five kills, a .300 (5-1-13) hitting percentage and three blocks. Claire Tucker led the defense with 15 digs.

In the first set, both teams battled through 12 ties until JU used a 2-0 run, sparked by consecutive hitting errors by Aimee Frutchey, to take a 16-14 lead. Mercer bounced back with a 2-0 run of its own and both squads went through two more ties until the Dolphins used a 5-0, capped by a setting error by Chelsea Gebben, to make it 22-17. After the Bears cut the deficit to 22-19 on an ace by Kelly Jansen, the Dolphin used a 3-1 run to take a 1-0 lead in the match.

In the second set, both teams went through three ties until the Bears used a 3-0 run to take a 6-3 advantage. JU answered with a 5-0 run, capped by a Gruenbacher kill, to take an 8-6 lead. After Mercer tied the contest (8-8) on a kill by Krista Hurley the Dolphins opened up the flood gates with a 9-1 run to make it a 17-9 margin. The Bears would never get any closer than six points (21-15) the rest of the way as JU took a 2-0 advantage.

In the final frame, JU started out of the gates hot and never looked back as the Dolphins started off the set with a 5-1 run. The Bears cut the margin to 7-5 on a kill by Rachel Urbelis, but JU used a 6-1 run to make it 13-6. Mercer cut the deficit to 15-11 after an attack error by the Dolphins, but JU sealed the match with a 10-2 run to end the set with a match-high .440 (15-3-27) hitting percentage.

JU will return to action at Swisher Gymnasium on Saturday against Kennesaw State at 5 p.m.