Volleyball drops finale to Florida A&M, 3-2
Sophomore Taylor Nyquist
Sophomore Taylor Nyquist
Despite a late comeback, the JU volleyball team fell in five sets (23-25, 16-25, 25-23, 25-20, 6-15) to Florida A&M in the 2012 season finale Wednesday at the Al Lawson Center.

The Lady Rattlers (15-11) had three register double-digit kills, led by Katherine Huanec’s 18. Maria Ceccarelli added 17 kills, while Pamela Barrera tallied 17 kills for Florida A&M.

After starting slow, the Dolphins (10-24) hit better than .340 to win the third and fourth sets to a force deciding frame. Sophomore Taylor Nyquist recorded 16 kills and 12 digs to lead the JU offense. Freshman Sammie Strausbaugh chipped in with 14 kills and freshman Emily Laskelle added 13 kills.

“I was proud of the way we fought all year,” JU head coach Michelle Collier said. “All season, our girls fought tool and nail in every match and that’s I can ask of them. We made great strides as a program these last few weeks and I am already looking to next season.”

After winning the first two sets, the Lady Rattlers opened the third with a 12-7 lead on consecutive JU errors. Nyquist and junior Kendall Courtney added kills for JU, but Florida A&M pushed it to 15-11 on a service error. The Dolphins rallied by using a 9-0 run, capped on an ace by freshman Thalya Pagan, to take a 22-16 advantage. Florida A&M climbed back in it by cutting the deficit to 23-22 on a Huanec kill to force a JU timeout. Strausbaugh and junior Alyssa Robertson each picked up kills to win the set for the Dolphins.

In the fourth set, the teams traded leads until a Florida A&M attack error capped a 6-2 JU stretch for a 21-17 advantage. The Dolphins took four of the next seven points to force a deciding set.

In the final frame, two Laskelle kills and an error helped JU take a 3-2 lead. The Lady Rattlers followed with an 11-2 run, capped on a JU error, to take a 13-5 lead. Barrera recorded the final two kills to secure the set and quash the JU comeback.

Despite the loss, the Dolphins ended the season winning five of their final seven conference games to make the A-Sun Tournament for the first time since 2009. Strausbaugh was named A-Sun Freshman of the Year after leading the Dolphins in kills (382) and aces (37), while ranking second in digs (303). She also made the A-Sun all-freshman team with fellow teammate Gabriela Roman.

The Dolphins will now turn their focus to the sand volleyball season starting in March.