Volleyball earns four A-Sun all-conference honors
On pace to win 20 matches for the first time since 1988, the JU volleyball team got two first team selections for the first time in program history, a second team honor and Defensive “Player of the Year” accolades on the Atlantic Sun All-Conference teams.

Senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf and junior libero Shelley Walroth were each named first team all-conference and sophomore middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher was selected to the second team. Walroth was also named conference Defensive “Player of the Year.” The two first team selections for JU were the first in program history.

Lipscomb sophomore outside hitter Alex Kelly was selected “Player of the Year”, Belmont freshman setter Channing Salava was named “Freshman of the Year” and Mercer head coach Noelle Rooke was voted “Coach of the Year.”

Bendorf, who earned second team honors last season, ranks third in the conference with 391 kills and 3.95 kills per set. In her third season with the program, she is setting her sights on the JU career record book by only needing 21 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 at Lipscomb on Oct. 24. She is also on pace to become only the fifth Dolphin to surpass 1,000 career kills, needing only 37 kills to accomplish the feat.

“Sara’s had another great season and has accomplished a lot in only three years here at Jacksonville University,” said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. “Her all around play has been something that our younger players have leaned on these past two years and she is not only a great player, but a great mentor to them on and off the court.”

Walroth, who becomes the first Dolphin to garner defensive honors, holds the top three spots in the JU single-season record book for digs and surpassed Julie Heipp - 1,324 (1991-94) on the career list with 25 against Georgia Southern on Sept. 30. In the A-Sun record book, Walroth is 144 digs shy of surpassing Lipscomb’s Anne Mullins (1,969) and she is 174 shy of becoming the 26th player in Division I history to tally 2,000 career digs. Walroth, who leads the conference in digs, currently ranks fourth in the nation with an average of 5.89 digs per set.

“Shelley is the best libero I’ve coached in a long time,” Kupferberg said. “Her serve/receive and defense has always been great, but this year she is also eighth in the conference in aces per set. She has worked very hard during her time here and is deserving of all the accolades she receives.”

Gruenbacher, who was named the to the all-freshman team last season, leads the conference with 110 blocks and 1.16 blocks per set while also ranking third with a .337 hitting percentage. In the JU career record books, she needs 11 blocks assists and 67 total blocks to surpass Carrie Windell (220 & 289, 1995-98) for fifth on the all-time list. She also set a program-record for hitting percentage in 10-15 attempts with .818 (10-1-11) against UNF on Oct. 28, surpassing Katie Hendrian (.714) against Savannah State in 2004.

“The scary thing about Abby is that she is still so far from her potential,” said Kupferberg. “Against teams in our conference, she was the top blocker and hitter in the stats. It’s going to be fun to watch her and all of our young players develop over the next two years.”

JU enters the A-Sun Tournament as the No. 3 seed and will open the weekend against No. 6 Campbell on Thursday at 5 p.m. All matches can be seen live on ASun.TV on JUDolphins.com.