FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2008
Volleyball falls to Belmont, 3-2, in semis of A-Sun Tournament
Senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf
Senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf
After tying up the match with a set four win, the Dolphins could not exorcise their demons in five-game sets as the JU volleyball team fell to No. 2 Belmont, 3-2 (25-16, 23-25, 20-25, 25-15, 4-15), Friday evening in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at the University Center.

JU (20-10) evened the match with a 25-15 win in set four but fell to 0-4 on the year in five set matches. The Dolphins hit a match-high .274 but hit a match-low -.071 (2-3-14) in set five and tallied 23 errors (12 service, 10 receiving and one ball handling).

BU (24-7) advances to the A-Sun Championship after hitting .240 and tallying 21 errors (12 service, seven receiving and two ball handling) but hit a match-high .636 (7-0-11) in the game deciding set to go to 5-0 this year in five set matches.

“This is obviously disappointing for all of us,” said JU head coach Shaun Kupferberg. “We have not executed in the fifth set all year and this time it ends our season for us. I’m sorry that Sara has to end her career this way. She has been with me for a long time and she is definitely going to be missed.”

Senior outside hitter Sara Bendorf led the Dolphins with a match-high 19 kills and 11 digs to tally her 13th double-double of the year. With her kill total, she surpasses Farley Snow (994, 1989-92) for fifth on the JU all-time kills list to end her Dolphin career.

Along with Bendorf, sophomore outside hitter Aidan Yeager tallied 15 kills and four blocks. Junior outside hitter Brooke Singleton added seven kills and 12 digs while junior middle blocker Nicki Kent had five kills and three blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Abby Gruenbacher had six kills and junior libero Shelley Walroth added a match-high 23 digs.

Cat Mundy led the Bruins with 18 kills and 12 digs while Jenny Gray added 10 kills and 10 digs. Channing Salava had a match-high 42 assists to go with eight kills, eight digs and three service aces. Megan Clements also chipped in with 11 kills.

In the first set, JU jumped out to an early 6-2 lead on an attack error by the Bruins but BU cut the deficit to 7-5 with an ace by Salava. The Dolphins answered with a 4-0 run, capped by a kill by Bendorf, to make it 11-5. JU increased the margin to 14-6 after a net violation by the Bruins and then made it 17-7 after consecutive blocks by Kent and Yeager. An ace by Walroth ended a 3-0 run (18-7) but BU answered with a 2-0 run to make it 18-10. JU used a 2-0 run, capped by an ace by freshman setter Ashley August, to push the margin to 21-12. The Dolphins would eventually get a kill by Bendorf to take a 1-0 lead in the match.

In the second set, BU jumped out to an early 2-0 lead but JU answered with a 2-0 run to tie things up. Both teams traded points before the Bruins used a 2-0 run, capped by an attack error by the Dolphins, to take a 5-3 advantage. Both teams would trade service errors before BU used a 3-0 run, capped by an attack error by the Dolphins, to push the lead to 9-5. The Bruins made it 12-7 with a kill by Mundy and then a 2-0 run increased the margin to 14-7. JU answered with a 5-0 run, capped by a net violation by the Bruins, to cut the margin to 14-12. Both teams would trade points until JU used a 2-0 run, capped by a ball handling error by the Bruins, to even the contest (16-16). Both teams would go through four more ties until BU used a 2-0 run to open up a 22-20 lead. JU would answer with a 3-1 run, capped by an ace by Kent, to even up the contest again (23-23) but an attack error by the Dolphins during a long rally and a kill by Jenny Gray to even the match.

In the third frame, both teams went through two ties until JU used a 5-0 run (capped by a solo block by Gruenbacher) to take a 7-2 lead. Both teams would trade points until BU cut the deficit to 11-8 with an ace by Maddie Johnson. JU would answer with a 2-0 run, capped by a kill by Bendorf, to push the margin to 13-8 but the Bruins would counter with a 2-0 run to cut it to 13-10. The Dolphins answered back with a 2-0 run, capped by an ace by Bendorf, to make it 15-10 but BU would use a 5-0 run to even things up (15-15). Both teams would go through two more ties until JU used a 2-0 run, capped by an attack error by the Bruins, to make it 19-17. The Bruins would answer with a 3-0 run, capped by an attack error by the Dolphins, to take a 21-19 lead. After a point by the Dolphins, the Bruins used a 4-0 run to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

In the fourth set, BU jumped out to an early 3-1 lead but JU countered with a 2-0 run to even the match (3-3). Both team would go through four more ties until JU used a 2-0 run, capped by an attack error by Mundy, to take a 9-7 lead. The Dolphins increased the lead to 11-8 with a block by Yeager and Kent and would increase the lead to 14-10 with a net violation by BU. JU made it 16-11 with an attack error by Johnson and increased the margin to 20-13 after a kill by Singleton. The Dolphins increased the advantage to 22-14 with a kill by Yeager and JU would use a 3-1 run to close out the set and even the match (2-2).

In the final frame, both teams went through two ties until BU used a 6-0 run to take an 8-2 lead. The Bruins made it 10-3 with a kill by Salava and then BU used a 5-1 run to end the set and seal the match.

JU ends the 2008 season with the program’s first 20-win season since 1988 and its lowest loss total in the Division I era. Kupferberg has also seen his win total increase in his three seasons at the helm of the program (17, 19, 20).