Volleyball avenges early loss with 3-1 win over UNF
Junior middle blocker Nicki Kent
Junior middle blocker Nicki Kent
The Dolphins shook off the effects from a rough weekend by avenging an early loss to cross-town rival UNF as the JU volleyball team defeated the Ospreys, 3-1 (25-20, 15-25, 25-15, 25-23), in the final match of the SunTrust River City Rumble Tuesday evening at Swisher Gymnasium.

JU (14-8, 9-5), which took a 2-1 lead in the overall count for the Old Wooden Barrel, hit .228 including a match-high .526 (10-0-19) in set three. UNF (8-13, 6-8) hit .221 as a team and finished with a match-high 20 errors (nine receiving, seven service, four ball handling).

Sophomore middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher set a program record for hitting percentage in 10-15 attempts with .818 (10-1-11), surpassing Katie Hendrian (.714) against Savannah State in 2004. Junior middle blocker Nicki Kent tied her career-high with seven blocks while also hitting .444 (5-1-9).

“It was a tough match tonight but we came through with a win and got back on the right track after a rough weekend,” said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. “Nicki and Abby stepped up for us and had solid games while our defense improved from last weekend. We have a long way to go but this was a good improvement this late in the season.”

Senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf led the Dolphins with 17 kills while junior libero Shelley Walroth racked up a match-high 19 digs and four aces. Freshman Ashley August notched her sixth double-double of the year (24 assists, 10 digs) while sophomore setter Hannah Munneke tallied her first double-dip of the season (16 assists, 10 digs). Sophomore outside hitter Aidan Yeager also chipped in with six blocks and seven kills.

Kaley Read led the Ospreys with a match-high 19 kills and a team-high 12 digs and three blocks. Madie Belvin dished a match-high 32 assists to go with 10 digs while Bary Rasmussen added nine kills.

In the first set, JU jumped out to a 4-1 lead but UNF slowly chipped away to tie the contest (6-6) with an ace by Danielle Lerch. After one more tie, UNF used a 3-1 run to take an 11-8 advantage but the Dolphins answered with a 4-1 run to even the contest (12-12). After another tie, JU used a 3-0 run to take a 16-13 lead before answering an Osprey point with a 4-0 run to make it 20-14 on a ball handling error by Marshay Greenlee. The Dolphins increased the lead to 23-16 with an ace by Kent and would take a 1-0 lead in the match with kills by Yeager and Bendorf.

In the second set, UNF took a 3-1 lead but JU came back to tie the contest (4-4) with a kill by junior outside hitter Brooke Singleton. After another tie (5-5), UNF used a 5-1 run to open up a 10-6 advantage. Both teams would trade points until the Ospreys used a 7-0 run, fueled by three aces by Agata Dawidowicz, to increase the lead to 19-9. JU would cut the deficit to 20-13 with a kill by Bendorf but the Ospreys answered with a 5-2 run to even the match at 1-1.

In the third frame, JU took an early 6-3 lead and would increase the margin to 9-4 with a block by Yeager and Kent. UNF would cut the deficit to 11-10 with a kill by Shawna Metcalf but the Dolphins answered with a 4-1 run, fueled by a pair of Walroth aces, to push the lead to 15-11. After a service error by the Dolphins, JU used a 10-4 run to end the set and take a 2-1 lead in the match.

In the final frame, both teams battled through eight early ties until JU used a 2-0 run to open a 12-10 lead. The Dolphins increased the margin to 15-12 with a kill by Kent but the Ospreys used a 3-0 run to even the match (15-15). JU took a 16-15 lead following an attack error by Read but UNF used a 3-0 run to take a 19-16 advantage. After a Read kills gave the Ospreys a 22-19 advantage, JU used a 5-0 run (fueled by two Bendorf kills and three consecutive UNF hitting errors) to recapture the lead, 24-22. A service error by JU made it 24-23 but Kent tallied a kill for the Dolphins to seal the match.

JU play two more matches at Swisher Gymnasium this week beginning with USC Upstate on Friday at 7 p.m.