THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2012
Volleyball starts A-Sun play Friday
Freshman Sammie Strausbaugh Play Video
Freshman Sammie Strausbaugh
The road challenges continue for the JU volleyball team as it opens the Atlantic Sun Conference slate Friday in Nashville.

The Dolphins (2-11) start the trek against three-time defending A-Sun champion Lipscomb in Allen Arena at 7:30 p.m. They finish the next day at A-Sun leader Northern Kentucky at 3 p.m.

“We are excited to start A-Sun play,” JU head coach Michelle Collier said. “We get to start fresh. We get to use everything we learned during preseason and apply it within conference so we can reach our goal of qualifying for the A-Sun Tournament.”

Last weekend, the Dolphins won the opener at the Spring Hill Suites Invitational before dropping the final three contests.

Despite the losses, JU showed improvement, including in the Georgia Southern match with three players at double-digit kills.

Freshman Sammie Strausbaugh led the group with 12 kills and 17 digs. Freshman Gabriela Roman earned all-tournament honors after recording 11 kills, while junior Kylie Jacob finished with 10 kills. Junior Kendall Courtney had 46 assists and 14 digs to help the cause.

“We still have a little bit of ways to go,” Collier said on staying consistent. “We are definitely better than we were in the beginning so we making progress in that aspect. Hopefully by the end of October, we will be a full go and have worked out all of the kinks. We are definitely better so we are going to put up a fight in conference.”

Like Strausbaugh, Roman has added a spark for the Dolphins in the early going by registering 62 kills (third on the team) and five aces (fourth) in 23 sets. She recorded 20 kills and 10 digs in only her third career match to led the Dolphins past Louisiana-Lafayette Sept. 8 for their first win of the season.

“It’s great have Gabby right now because she didn’t dress in the first two tournaments,” Collier said. “She is definitely one of our go-to hitters and is playing a big role as a freshman. Coming from Puerto Rico, there is a little bit of a different culture on the gym and outside, but she has been adapting well. Hopefully, she will continue to improve and be a great player for our future.”

The Norse started their season 12-1 before dropping a 3-2 decision in their A-Sun opener to the Bisons (4-8, 1-0) Tuesday in Highland Heights, Ky.

NKU’s Shelby Buschur leads the squad with 158 kills during its hot start. Haley Lippert (139), Kelly Morrissey (128) and Jenna Ruble (117) each have more than 100 kills through 14 matches.

The Bisons are led by Lauren Ford who has 158 kills, 109 digs and six aces through 12 starts. Kaycee Green is at 138 kills, while Stephanie Rex has recorded a team-best 141 digs.

“We have been playing strong teams all preseason that have done well in their conferences,” Collier said. “If we want to reach our goals then we will continue to play the tough teams like Lipscomb and Northern Kentucky to do it. This is a good opportunity to get out on the road, start fresh and do things the right way. We hope to play as hard as we can and see what happens.”

Fans can follow the matches through the live links at JUDolphins.com.