Top-Seeded Dolphins Win 2013 Atlantic Sun Tournament
(Photo credit: Atlantic Sun)
(Photo credit: Atlantic Sun)
KENNESAW, Ga. – Behind the 2013 Atlantic Sun Volleyball Coach of the Year, Michelle Collier, top-seeded Jacksonville University volleyball won the 2013 Atlantic Sun Volleyball Tournament. The Fins beat No. 3 Lipscomb, 25-27, 28-26, 25-19, 16-25 and 15-10.

This is Jacksonville’s second-ever title and first since the 2004 squad beat former A-Sun member Belmont, 3-2, and advanced to the NCAA.

"We knew it was going to be a battle," Collier said. "Lipscomb is a great team and they don’t back down and they don’t give up, but so do we. So we knew it was going to be whoever outlasted the other, and fought longer, and was more confident, and in that fifth game we showed a lot of heart and a lot of composure and we played like a championship team.”

Senior Kendall Courtney was named the A-Sun Tournament MVP, while both senior Kylie Jacob and sophomore Sammie Strausbaugh were named to the all-tournament team.

“Sammie plays a really hard role," Collier explained. "I mean she got served the whole match, she got double-blocked the whole match, and they kept going after her and after her and you felt like she was getting frustrated, but then in game five she just shows up and plays with so much confidence and so much heart. It says a lot for a young player like her. So that was great to see her do that and I’m very proud of her for that.

“Kendall and Kylie just played like seniors. Kendall has led this team from day one and has been a great leader and a great role model on and off the court. She’s a great student, she keeps her teammates in check, and she works hard every day.”

“Kylie showed up in the game and she started scoring some points and doing the things that we need her to do, which is block balls and score points and they showed up and they deserved the awards and I’m just very proud of them and happy for them."

Jacob tied a match-high kill total with 17, hit a match-best .519 and added four block assists. Senior Alyssa Robertson and red-shirt junior Taylor Nyquist followed with 13 kills, while Strausbaugh earned her 15th double-double of the season, tallying 10 kills and 15 digs. Robertson led with five block assists, while Nyquist and Strausbaugh each recorded three.

Jacksonville's 29 wins ties FAU's total from the 2005 season, with records based on a rally-point scoring system that began in 2001. 29 is also JU's best win-total since the 1987 program earned the same.

In fifth and final set, fought tooth and nail, Jacksonville never let up its control. The Fins led 8-3 before Lipscomb rallied back within two, down 10-8, but the Fins continued their momentum and won 15-10, ending on a Jacob kill.

In the opening set, the Dolphins tended to stay two to three points behind the Bisons in the first set. They climbed their way back from a 7-3 deficit to stand down just 18-16, 20-18 and eventually held the Bisons on set-point five times, earning five straight to improve from 24-21 to lead 25-24. But ultimately, the Bisons won the first set 27-25 tallying the final three points. As a team the Dolphins hit .114, while the Bisons hit. 135.

The second set was a quick turnaround from close play, as the Dolphins led 17-9 and took a 20-12 lead after a fierce Emily Laskelle kill. But the Bisons fought back and took a 21-20 lead on nine straight points before a long battle for the set win. Lipscomb’s Jewell Dobson and Sophie Kellerman added two straight kills to lead 25-24 before Jacob and Nyquist added straight kills to pull JU to a 26-25 lead. Dobson then made a kill to tie at 26-all before Nyquist and Strausbaugh tallied the final two kills to win 28-26 to tie the match. Jacksonville hit .256 to Lipscomb’s .184.

JU hit even better in the third set with a .270 attack percentage to Lipscomb’s .139. The Fins broke away from a 10-10 tie on three straight for a 13-10 lead on Strausbaugh and Laskelle kills and one bad set. Lipscomb rallied the back and forth set to tie at 16-16, but fell behind as JU led the remainder and won 25-19. Jacob held a match-high 12 kills and Strausbaugh tallied a match-best 11 digs at the conclusion of the third.

The fire that JU held in the third, Lipscomb contained in the fourth. The Bisons opened to a 7-1 lead on six straight and never looked back. The Dolphins were down 10-4, 19-9 and eventually fell 25-16, hitting .208 to Lipscomb’s 500.

Jacksonville has won nine straight and 19 of its last its last 20. This season, the Fins went 2-for-3 against Lipscomb. They beat the Bisons, 3-1, at home on Sept. 27, but fell in five sets in Nashville on Oct. 26.

Next, the Dolphins will host Florida A&M on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 2 p.m., before competing in the NCAA. The NCAA selection show will be held on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 9:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

“It’s the best of the best," Collier said of the NCAA Tournament. "Whoever we have to face is going to be a great challenge ... but we really just live in the moment. We’re going to get back in the gym, work hard, we’ve got that match on Tuesday, so it’s one more challenge on our home court to keep things rolling and work on the things that we can do to be a better team when we play in the NCAA."