Volleyball opens practice for 2012 season
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A new era of JU volleyball started Wednesday as the Dolphins opened practice for the 2012 campaign in historic Swisher Gymnasium.

The Dolphins begin their 41st season of competition with a new coaching staff led by Michelle Collier and six players competing in their first indoor collegiate season.

"I was very pleased and proud of how hard our team worked on our first day of preseason,” JU head coach Michelle Collier said. “We pushed them hard and they responded very well. Our goal is to continue to build up on today and keep getting better.”

Last season, the Dolphins posted a 14-17 record to finish tied for sixth in the A-Sun, but lost a tiebreaker to cross-town rival North Florida to miss the conference tournament for the second straight season.

Juniors Kendall Courtney and Kylie Jacob lead the crop of six returners in 2012. Courtney led the A-Sun in overall assists (1,222) and ranking second in service aces (54). She also had a team-best 23 double-doubles (assists & digs), including one in the final nine contests.

Jacob finished first in the A-Sun with a .350 hitting percentage (243-65-509), while ranking second on the team in kills. She recorded 13 double-digit kill efforts, including 13 or more on five occasions.

Senior Alison Loeppky returns after finishing third in kills with 236, while JU gets back the much needed offense from sophomore Taylor Nyquist who had her 2011 season ended early due to injury. The Dolphins will also look for depth from senior Nicole Teplitz and junior Alyssa Robertson.

The Dolphins went to Puerto Rico in grabbing half of its newcomers in Gabriela Roman, Thalya Pagan and Jizzyan Gesualdo. Emily Laskelle comes to JU from the west coast following a successful career at Napa Valley High School. Freshmen Chunia Graves (redshirt) and Sammie Strausbaugh (sand) will each compete in their first indoor season after spending last season in the wings.

“With five freshmen on our team this preason, our focus is going to be to get as organized as we can as a unit,” Collier said. “Communication and the team system will be our focus. Getting our newcomers used to the speed and strategy of the game at the Division I level is also something we will try to accomplish early on in the season.”

The Dolphins open the season with the first of four tournaments Aug. 24 for the Hampton Inn & Suites West Ashley Invitational against N.C. State in Charleston, S.C.