After a rough weekend in Nashville, the JU volleyball team (13-8, 8-5) will try to avenge an early season loss in the SunTrust River City Rumble by hosting UNF (8-12, 6-7) at Swisher Gymnasium on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
In the first meeting between the two schools this season, the Ospreys opened conference play with a 3-1 decision over the Dolphins at UNF Arena on Sept. 9.
JU’s match against UNF can be seen live on ASun.TV.
A change of heart benefits JU
Junior outside hitter Brooke Singleton is in her first year at JU after transferring from Illinois State, but it is the first time she is playing volleyball since high school.
A two-sport phenom at Roseville High School, Singleton led the volleyball team to a 124-30 record, four straight regional title and currently ranks 13th in the state of Illinois in career kills. But in basketball, she was a three-time all-state selection, Roseville’s all-time leading scorer and a three-time all-area “Player of the Year.”
After high school, Singleton hung up the knee pads and played three years of basketball at Illinois State where she helped lead the Redbirds to the NCAA Tournament in 2008.
But after three years, Singleton decided she wanted an opportunity to return to volleyball and JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg was more than willing to oblige.
Arguably the best passer for the Dolphins, Singleton has started every set, leads the squad with 21 service aces and is third with 173 digs and 2.34 digs per set.
Walroth third in the nation
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).
The younger Walroth currently holds the family single-season record but sits at 1,693 in her career and needs 403 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 150 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 1,099 more digs in order to surpass the mark.
Something else to ponder...with Walroth
Junior libero Shelley Walroth ranks third in the nation in digs per set (6.08) but 12 of JU’s 21 matches this season have gone only three sets.
In the remaining nine matches, seven are four sets in length and only two have gone the full five sets. Despite the lack of opportunities, Walroth has notched at least 20 digs in 10 matches and at least 30 digs in four matches (including a career-best 38 against Lipscomb).
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 108 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 72 blocks, 1.03 blocks per set and a .309 hitting percentage while also ranking third with 140 kills and 2.00 kills per set.
In the career record books, she needs 50 blocks assists and 110 total blocks to surpass Carrie Windell (220 & 289, 1995-98) for fifth on the all-time list
A shot of Yeager
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 154 kills, 2.44 kills per set and is second with a .254 hitting percentage and third with 44 blocks.
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 continued 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.
Bendorf added two more double-doubles to her total against Seattle and Campbell to make it a team-leading nine on the year.
In her third season, she is setting her sights on the JU career record book by needing 26 kills to surpass Farley Snow (994, 1989-92) for fifth on the all-time list. Bendorf did move into fifth all-time for attempts, surpassing Snow with 39 attempts against at Lipscomb.
Dolphins in the A-Sun rankings
In the team rankings, JU is first in opponent hitting percentage (.152), second in assists (11.62 aps) and blocks (2.01 bps) and third in hitting percentage (.219) and digs (15.65 dps). They are also fourth in kills (12.61 kps) and service aces (1.53 aps).
Individually, junior libero Shelley Walroth is first in digs (450) and digs per set (6.08), senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf is second in kills per set (3.88) and second in kills (287), sophomore middle hitter Abby Gruenbacher is first in blocks per set (1.03) and fourth in hitting percentage (.309), sophomore setter Hannah Munneke ranks eighth in assists per set (6.55) and freshman setter Ashley August is ninth in assists per set (5.45).
Even with two losses over the weekend, JU earned a spot in the A-Sun Tournament with a loss by Stetson…against Belmont, senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf led the Dolphins with 15 kills and a .286 (15-5-35) hitting percentage…junior outside hitter Brooke Singleton added six kills and 14 digs while junior libero Shelley Walroth led the defense with 20 digs…against Lipscomb, sophomore outside hitter Aidan Yeager led the Dolphins with 13 kills and a .355 (13-2-31) hitting percentage…sophomore middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher added 11 kills and a match-high six blocks…Bendorf chipped in with nine kills, 16 digs and two blocks while sophomore middle blocker Brittany Lehman added six kills and a .417 (6-1-12) hitting percentage…Walroth led the defense with a match-high 23 digs.