The JU volleyball team had its six-match winning streak snapped but the Dolphins will return to the road this week beginning on Thursday at 7 p.m. with a non-conference contest against UNC-Wilmington (5-9) at Hanover Hall.
The Dolphins, who are off to their best startsince 2000 (9-4), conclude their road trip against A-Sun foe Campbell (4-11, 2-4) on Friday at 7 p.m.
The match against the Camels can be seen live on ASun.TV.
ASun.TV now available
The JU Dolphins made their season debut on ASun.TV against Mercer on Sept. 12 and more matches remain. To sign up to view any of the contests, or any other packages offered, log onto www.asun.tv.
ASun.TV events will be available for viewing both live and via on-demand replay to fans throughout the country that purchase a Single Event Pass ($5.99 per event), a monthly All-Event Pass ($9.99 per month), or an annual All-Event pass ($69.99 per year). Both the annual and monthly All-Event Passes allow unlimited access to games within their respective timeframes.
A new wrinkle pays off
In seven years of coaching, JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg has had a great deal of success running a 5-1 formation but a versatile squad in 2008 created an experiment which has payed huge dividends for Kupferberg and the Dolphins.
The standard lineup, which is used by most programs, keeps the setter in through all rotations and would call for an occasional substitution during a serve.
After a 2-1 start to the 2008 season, JU went stagnant with three consecutive losses and the coaching staff decide to try and shake things up.
Kupferberg went to the chemistry lab and conjured up a 6-2 formation for the first time in his career. The new look incorporates two setters but instead of leaving them in throughout the match, he substitutes two players (OH & S) after three rotations. The outside hitter would replace the setter on the front row and the new setter would start with a serve and rotate two more times in the back row. Due to the versatility of having two setters (sophomore Hannah Munneke and freshman Ashley August), Kupferberg has the ability to keep an extra swing in the front row, increase the size of his block and strengthen his defense on the back row.
Through the three game slide (Sept. 5-9), JU hit .155 (97-51-297) with an average of 9.7 kills, nine assists, 11.3 digs and one block per set. Opponents hit .317 (139-46-317), with 13.9 kills, 12.8 assists, 12.6 digs and 1.5 blocks per set.
Since making the lineup change on Sept. 12, JU is 6-1 with a .248 (325-109-871) hitting percentage while averaging 13 kills, 12 assists, 15.4 digs, and 2.6 blocks per set. Conversely, opponents are hitting .101 (270-178-909) with 10.8 kills, 9.6 assists, 15.2 digs and 1.3 blocks per set.
Junior libero Shelley Walroth broke her own single-season digs record at JU with 672 last year and is now setting her sights on becoming only the 26th player in NCAA history to surpass 2,000 career digs.
After tallying the JU single-season record for digs, Walroth surpassed Julie Heipp - 1,324 (1991-94) on the career list with 25 against Georgia Southern on Sept. 30.
With all the JU records in her possession, her targets are now the A-Sun, NCAA and family bragging rights . Her sister, Julie, tallied 2,095 career digs to set the program record at Evansville (2004-07). A two-time Missouri Valley Conference “Libero of the Year,” Julie also set the single-season record with 656 her senior season.
The younger Walroth currently holds the family single-season record but sits at 1,532 in her career and needs 564 to become the undisputed head of the family.
In the A-Sun record book, Kaena Apana of ETSU holds the single-season record with 750 and Liz Kane of Mercer is the career holder with 1,843. Walroth is currently 312 off the pace for the career record.
In the NCAA, the Division I record for career digs is 2,791 by Paula Gentil of Minnesota from 2002-05. Walroth would need 1260 more digs in order to surpass the mark.
Walroth, who leads the Atlantic Sun Conference in digs, ranks third in the nation with an average of 6.02 digs per set.
Senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf started the year off in a blaze as she tallied three-consecutive double-doubles. The next three matches, however, went the complete opposite as she failed to tally double-digit kills and JU went on a three-match slide.
Things look like they are back to normal again for the senior swinger as she led the Dolphins to three consecutive wins at home (Sept. 12-14) and two straight road wins (Sept. 19-20).
For the homestand, she led the squad with 34 kills, a 3.78 kills per set average and 10 blocks while also hitting .377 (34-5-77) with 18 digs, a two digs per set average and three aces.
On the road, Bendorf got back in the double-double groove with 17 kills and 11 digs against ETSU as the Dolphins won in Brooks Gym for the first time in three tries. Against USC Upstate, Bendorf tallied a match-high 17 kills and 10 digs to run her double-double total to five for the year. For the week, she finished with 34 kills, 4.86 kills per set, a .262 hitting percentage (34-13-80), 21 digs, three digs per set and three blocks in two matches.
Although the Dolphins had their six match winning streak snapped by Lipscomb on Sept. 27, Bendorf continues to double-dip as she increased her streak to four and her yearly total to seven. Against the Bruins, she finished with 19 kills and 11 digs before tallying a season-high 22 kills and 11 digs against the Bisons.
Sophomore middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher is also coming off a freshman campaign which earned her A-Sun all-freshman accolades but must fill the shoes of departed middle Melissa Merchant.
As a freshman, Gruenbacher ranked third in the conference and led all freshmen with 98 total blocks, including a season-high 13 total blocks vs. New Orleans. She also ranked second on the squad in hitting percentage (.263) and went over .300 on 13 occasions.
Gruenbacher is picking up the slack in 2008 by leading the squad with 48 blocks, 1.04 blocks per set and a .302 hitting percentage while also ranking third with 97 kills and 2.11 kills per set.
Aidan the cause
Sophomore outside hitter Aidan Yeager may not be the feature swing on the outside but she is quietly having a solid season as the first sub off the bench.
In her first year, Yeager was the top freshman hitter and blocker in A-Sun after ranking fourth in the conference with 1.05 blocks per game and 2.76 kills per game. She was also third on squad in hitting percentage (.236) which was tops among all A-Sun freshmen outside hitters.
This year, she ranks second on the squad with 38 blocks and 0.70 blocks per set and is second with 107 kills and 2.28 kills per set.
Dolphins in the A-Sun rankings
In the team rankings, JU is first in opponent hitting percentage (.153) and assists (11.46 aps), second in blocks (2.15 bps) and is third in hitting percentage (.218), kills (12.35 kps) and digs (14.81 dps).
Individually, junior libero Shelley Walroth is first in digs (226) and digs per set (5.79), sophomore middle hitter Abby Gruenbacher is first in blocks (48) and blocks per set (1.04) and seventh in hitting percentage (.302), senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf leads the conference in kills per set (3.81) and is second in kills (183) and sophomore setter Hannah Munneke ranks sixth in assists per set (7.54).
JU is off to its best overall record since going 9-4 during the 2000 season...against Lipscomb, the Dolphins had its six-match winning streak snapped and dropped its first match at home (4-1)… senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf, who notched her fourth straight double-double, tallied a match-high 22 kills and 11 digs to run her total to seven for the year…junior outside hitter Brooke Singleton tallied her first career double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs while also hitting .333 (12-3-27)…freshman setter Ashley August also doubled up with 29 assists and 10 digs…sophomore outside hitter Aidan Yeager chipped in with 11 kills while sophomore middle hitter sophomore middle hitter Abby Gruenbacher (match-high eight blocks) and freshman outside hitter Kathryn Kane (five blocks) added to the defense. Against Belmont, the Dolphins increased their season-high winning streak to six matches...Bendorf tallied a match-high 19 kills and 11 digs to run her double-double total to six for the year...Walroth tallied a match-high 25 digs...Yeager finished with nine kills and a .269 (9-2-26) hitting percentage...sophomore middle blocker Brittany Lehman tallied a match-high four blocks and Gruenbacher added a match-high four blocks, five kills and four digs..Singleton chipped in with 14 digs, four kills and three blocks.