Volleyball Looks To Continued Success In Quest For The Atlantic Sun Championship

Aug. 16, 2001

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Entering its second season under the direction of head coach Robin Mignerey, the JU volleyball team can once again be expected to follow its leader to a "T" - work hard, play smart and get the job done on the court.

In her first season as a collegiate head coach, Mignerey guided the Dolphins to a 17-11 overall record and a third-place finish in the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 6-3 mark in league play. Along the way, the Dolphins earned their first-ever A-Sun Tournament victory and were the only team to defeat eventual regular-season and tournament champion Georgia State.

And while the Dolphins lost three starters from last year's team - Brooke Jackson, Tiffany Twaddle and Jessica Windell - the JU roster features numerous players that can fill the void. Mignerey returns starters Carrie Bosworth, Carrie Arago Palmi and Kelly Ryals along with letterwinners Brooke Ahrens, Jaclyn Buran and Radka Dimitrova from her 2000 squad. Mignerey also brought in some experienced players with the signing of former Florida Community College standouts Alesha Rodriguez and Kristin Withrow, Division I transfer Kristy Smith from UAB, along with former Chopticon (Md.) High standout Candice Rose.

"We lost three starters, but our returning letterwinners saw a significant amount of playing time last year," says Mignerey. "Brooke, Jaclyn and Radka also played more than one position, and that should give us some flexibility in the line-up which will help us in situational matchups.

"We also brought in some experience with the two girls from FCCJ and another from UAB where she competed against some quality competition in Conference USA. There's no doubt in my mind that the returnees and the newcomers can come in, take the reigns of the team and win some matches."

Headlining the list of returning players are 2000 All-Atlantic Sun honorees, Arago Palmi and Bosworth. Arago Palmi, a first-team selection at outside hitter, led the league in service aces per game (0.53) and digs per game (3.81) as a junior. The 1999 A-Sun Player of the Year, Arago Palmi also set the JU record for kills in a three-game match (21 at Troy State), tied a five-game match record with nine aces at Bethune-Cookman and set the school's single-season digs-per-game record.

Bosworth, meanwhile, earned second-team All-Atlantic Sun honors after ranking second in the league in assists with a JU single-season record 11.05 assists per game, while also setting the Dolphins' single-season record with 1,149 assists.

"Carrie Arago Palmi and Carrie Bosworth are definitely the nucleus of our team," says Mignerey. "Bosworth sets up our attack and Arago can finish off a play. But we'll need the other players on the team to follow their lead if we are to be successful in 2001."

Joining Arago Palmi and Bosworth as a returning starter is Ryals, a sophomore outside hitter, who finished second on the club in digs (279) and third in kills (196) in 2000. Other returning players are Brooke Ahrens, a junior middle hitter, Jaclyn Buran, a senior middle hitter, and Dimitrova, a sophomore outside hitter.

Ahrens, who is one of the most athletic players on the JU roster, played in 12 matches last season and logged double-digit kill totals in three contests. Dimitrova saw plenty of action as a freshman as an outside hitter and setter, but will be played primarily as an outside hitter and right-side player in 2001 because of her outstanding blocking ability. Buran, a three-year veteran who stands 6-feet tall, adds experienced depth and height to the Dolphin team.

"Brooke Ahrens is so athletic that she can truly develop into one of our go-to players," says Mignerey. "With her size, strength and jumping ability, Brooke can really dominate at the net. Radka has really worked hard in the offseason, both on the court and in the weight room, and Jaclyn knows the system after playing on the team for three years."

Joining the six JU veterans are Rodrigues and Withrow from FCCJ, Smith from UAB and Rose who is the only freshman on the Dolphin roster.

Rodriguez, an outside hitter, and Withrow, a setter, both set numerous records during their two seasons with at FCCJ and will see plenty of action at their respective positions in 2001. Smith, a middle hitter who Mignerey expects to provide excellent play at the net and a high level of intensity, brings two years of Division I experience after playing in Conference USA before deciding to transfer to JU. Rose, meanwhile, joins the collegiate ranks after a stellar prep career at Chopticon High, where she earned first-team Washington Post All-Extra, all-conference and all-county honors, as well as honorable-mention all-metro recognition as a senior.

"I expect the new players to not only contribute this season, but contribute right away," says Mignerey. "They're all working hard and fighting for a starting position, and competition within the team always brings out the best in the individual players."

The 2001 schedule is one of the most difficult in recent JU history. In addition to the 10-match Atlantic Sun slate, JU will also take on SEC foes Georgia and Auburn, Big East foe Syracuse and Conference USA opponent Charlotte. The Dolphins will also host Northeastern, Charleston Southern and Eastern Michigan in the JU Invitational.

"Mix the experience of the newcomers with the experience we've got coming back, along with a quality schedule in 2001, and that should equal a successful volleyball season," says Mignerey.