Volleyball puts conference win streak on the line Thursday

Sept. 27, 2005

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- - When Belmont picked up a 3-1 win over the Jacksonville volleyball team on Oct. 1, 2004, little did they know they were waking a sleeping giant.

Now, almost a year later, the Dolphins (5-10, 1-0 A-Sun) haven't lost a match in Atlantic Sun Conference play and put their 11-match winning streak on the line Thursday night against archrival and A-Sun newcomer North Florida.

"Honestly the streak hasn't even been talked about with our team," said head coach Kevin Paul said. "I'm not even sure the girls know about it. Putting it on the line with UNF is no different than any other conference team, we don't want to lose. UNF will be a very good test for us early in conference, that program is used to winning and when you go against a team with a history of winning it makes it that much harder regardless of talent. I feel very good about where we are right now as a team and things are coming along as planned, we are confident and hungry to prove ourselves that last year's finish was for real."

The 2005 season is eerily similar to the 2004 campaign's beginning. Compare these facts:

- The Dolphins opened 2004 by going 0-7. In 2005, JU opened 1-9.

- Jacksonville got hot in conference play in 2004, winning eight of 10 matches, including seven in a row to end the regular season. This year, the Dolphins opened their A-Sun schedule with a dominating 3-0 win over Stetson.

- Both teams were able to beat in-state rival UCF, 3-0.

"It's a great thing to have going simply because that means we are playing well when we need to and we know what matches are most important to us," Paul said.

Jacksonville's 11-match winning streak will be put to the test by North Florida, which beat JU 3-0 a year ago at home and 3-0 at UNF in 2003.

"There are numerous reasons we want to beat UNF," Paul said. "Obviously the fact they are now in the Atlantic Sun and it's another step to the title, which is our main goal. Outside of that, it's a huge match in terms of bragging rights in the city. There are a lot of people paying attention to this particular match around town and it's very important we come away with this win. UNF has beaten us the last two meetings and we are aware of that. The team's attitude is a little more intense because they want this win and they know what they have to do to get it. As of now, UNF is the biggest match ever to them."

Last year's dream run to the A-Sun tournament championship began with a couple of easy wins and turned into a run for the ages.

The streak began with 3-0 wins over Troy and Lipscomb and was followed by a hard fought 3-2 win over Campbell at home.

Jacksonville kept rolling, sweeping Gardner-Webb and Stetson to set up a matchup against Florida Atlantic.

The Dolphins pulled out a 3-2 win on the road and followed with a 3-0 whitewash of UCF to enter the conference tournament with seven straight wins in A-Sun play.

And Jacksonville kept that momentum going, knocking off UCF 3-0 and following it up with a 3-2 upset of Florida Atlantic in the semifinals and avenged that loss to Belmont with a 3-2 win in the title game.

The Dolphins' 11-match winning streak goes on the line Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Swisher Gymnasium.